More Men Suffer Depression Than Seek Help

ByABC News
June 17, 2003, 3:00 PM

June 17 -- Reluctant to talk about the weight of their lives, many men are suffering in silence from depression.

"It's important to recognize that when men become depressed it may not be quite the picture of depression most of us have," said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Even though depression in men is only about half as common as it is in women, 6 million men in America are diagnosed with depression annually, mental health experts say. Men are more likely to suffer in silence and not seek treatment while depressed woman are more likely to report feelings of sadness, helplessness, and guilt

Researchers say it is often more difficult for men to identify their illness. Men with depression are more likely to report fatigue, irritability, and loss of interest in work.

Snapshot of Debilitating Illness

According to data released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 16 percent of the U.S. adult population will have a major depression at some time in their life. And about as many as 14 million Americans suffered an episode of depression in the last year alone, with the average episode lasting about four months.

The survey builds on previous surveys that showed women develop clinical depression at nearly twice the rate (12 percent each year) as men (7 percent).

Men and women arrive at depression the same way: It's a chemical imbalance in the brain. Studies suggest you are at greater risk of developing depression if you've suffered a severe loss as a child, an overwhelmingly stressful event as an adult, or you have a family history of depression.

But however one develops depression, men appear to react to it differently than women.

"One of the things you see often see with men," said Insel, "is social withdrawal, which is really a very important signal and more common than with women."

Took Over My Life

Jimmy Brown, a New York City firefighter, developed depression shortly after 9/11.