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New Scales to Measure Depression Suggest Just as Many Men Suffer as Women

A long-standing disparity between depression rates in men and women disappears (August 30)

Depression can look different in men and women at first. But when hallmark symptoms, like rage, risk-taking, substance abuse, and even workaholism, are factored into a diagnosis, the disparity between depression rates in men and women disappears, according to a study in the journal, Psychiatry. That conclusion overturns long-accepted statistics indicating that, over their lifetimes, women are 70% more likely to have major depression than men.

The findings help unravel a mystery that has long puzzled mental health authorities: If men are so much less likely than women to be depressed, why are they four times more likely to commit suicide?

Health policy researchers from the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University set out to test the feasibility of two new checklists that might diagnose depression in men as well as women with greater accuracy. The checklists were identified as the gender inclusive depression scale that included widely recognized depressive symptoms such as sadness and hopelessness and the male symptoms scale. Of the patients given the gender inclusive scale, 30.6% of men and 33.3% of women were found to have experienced a depressive episode at some point in their lives. In research terms, that gap between men and women was so narrow it may have been a statistical fluke. When the subjects were evaluated with the male symptoms scale, 26.3% of men and 21.9% of women were said to have experienced a major depressive episode in their lifetimes. That difference was large enough that it could not be due to chance, the researchers reported.

Source: Psychiatry

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