People identify symptoms of depression more readily in women than men

The ability to correctly identify signs of depression depends on the gender of both the identifier and the person with depression, as well as individual psychological differences, according to research published November 14 by Viren Swami from the University of Westminster, UK.

The author presented with one of two fictitious subjects, Kate and Jack. Both were described in non-clinical terms as having identical symptoms of , the only difference being their suggested gender. For example, a sample of the test reads, "For the past two weeks, Kate/Jack has been feeling really down. S/he wakes up in the morning with a flat, heavy feeling that stick with her/him all day. S/he isn't enjoying things the way s/he normally would. S/he finds it hard to concentrate on anything."

Respondents were asked to identify whether the individual described suffered a mental health disorder, and how likely they would be to recommend seeking professional help to the subject in the test.

Both men and women were equally likely to classify Kate as having a , but men were less likely than women to indicate that Jack suffered from depression.

Men were also more likely to recommend that Kate seek professional help than women were, but both men and women were equally likely to make this suggestion for Jack. Respondents, particularly men, rated Kate's case as significantly more distressing, difficult to treat, and deserving of sympathy than they did Jack's case.

The researcher also found that individual attitudes towards depression were associated with skepticism about psychiatry and anti-scientific attitudes. According to the author, their results are significant for initiatives aimed at enhancing mental , which should consider the impact of and attitudes towards help-seeking behaviors.

More information: Swami V (2012) Mental Health Literacy of Depression: Gender Differences and Attitudinal Antecedents in a Representative British Sample. PLoS ONE 7(11): e49779. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049779

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Depressed men struggle more than depressed women

Dec 08, 2010

A new wide-ranging study by the University of Otago, Wellington has shown that men with common mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety, are more likely than women with those disorders to have difficulties with social ...

Study finds sex differences in mental illness

Aug 18, 2011

When it comes to mental illness, the sexes are different: Women are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression, while men tend toward substance abuse or antisocial disorders, according to a new study published ...

Recommended for you

Study: Pupil size shows reliability of decisions

4 hours ago

Te precision with which people make decisions can be predicted by measuring pupil size before they are presented with any information about the decision, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational Bi ...

Single dose of antidepressant changes the brain

8 hours ago

A single dose of antidepressant is enough to produce dramatic changes in the functional architecture of the human brain. Brain scans taken of people before and after an acute dose of a commonly prescribed ...

User comments