People don’t want to see male depression, even when they have it, says Dr. Viren Swami’s research.
An interesting new study from the University of Westminster seems to confirm what depression sufferers and mental health advocates have been saying for some time: when major depression occurs in men as opposed to women, both the depressed man and those around him are less likely to recognize the problem. This presents a serious obstacle to treatment of the disease.
From the Psych Central article on the study:
“Men are expected to be strong, deny pain and vulnerability, and conceal any emotional fragility,” said Swami, a psychologist at the University of Westminster, in London.
“Because of these societal expectations, men appear to have poorer understanding of mental health and aren’t as good at detecting symptoms of depression compared with women.”
Potash says the findings also may reflect the fact that women are generally more in touch with emotions and better at articulating them. Some men might have all the outward signs of depression, and yet when asked about their mood they “may not be able to say much more than ‘I don’t know,’” he says. “A substantial minority of men just don’t describe depression.”
I, and many other men suffering from depression, can attest that that pattern sounds awfully familiar. Being unable to express what we’re feeling is a very common problem for us, especially when we’re not feeling anything at all, just a blank numbness. If you or someone you love has this problem, make the effort to reach out, connect, tell your story.
In the meantime, I for one am very encouraged to see this issue being addressed by serious research. Having a gut feeling is one thing—seeing it confirmed by a peer-reviewed study is another. Thanks are due to Dr. Viren Swami for his work, and may it lead to greater understanding of the silent tragedy playing out in too many men’s lives.
Read more about this issue in our special section: On Depression