Depression and Gender

By: Pattrick Jhonson

For reasons that are not well understood, two-thirds of all people suffering from depression are women. Researchers have proposed biological, psychological, and social explanations for this fact. The biological explanation rests on the observation that women appear to be at greater risk for depression when their hormone levels change significantly, as during the premenstrual period, the period following the birth of a child, and the onset of menopause. Men's hormone levels appear to remain more stable throughout life. Researchers therefore theorized that women were inherently more at risk for depression. Yet evidence to support this theory is either inconsistent or contrary.

Although adolescent and adult females have been found to experience depression at twice the rate of males, the college population seems to represent a notable exception, with equal rates experienced by males and females. Why? Several theories have been suggested for this anomaly.

The social institutions of the college campus provide a more egalitarian sex role status for men and women.



College women have fewer negative events than do high school females.



Males in college report more negative events than in high school.



College women report smaller and more supportive social networks.





Depression is often preceded by a stressful event. Some psychologists therefore theorized that women might be under more stress than are men and thus more prone to become depressed. However, women do not report a greater occurrence of more stressful events than do men.

Finally, researchers have observed gender differences in coping strategies, or the response to certain events or stimuli, and have proposed the explanation that women's strategies put them at more risk for depression than do men's strategies. Presented with "a list of things people do when depressed," college students were asked to indicate how likely they were to engage in the behavior outlined in each item on the list. Men were more likely to assert that, "I avoid thinking of reasons why I am depressed," "I do something physical," or "I play sports." Women were more likely to assert that, "I try to determine why 1 am depressed," "I talk to other people about my feelings," and "I cry to relieve the tension." In other words, the men tried to distract themselves from a depressed mood whereas the women tended to focus attention on it. If focusing on depressed feelings intensifies these feelings, women's response style may make them more likely than men to become clinically depressed. This hypothesis has not been directly tested, but some supporting evidence suggests its validity.

Top Searches on
Depression
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Depression
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles