Sex and depression: Study finds your gender can affect your mental health

Oct 02, 2007

A University of Western Sydney study which explored men's experiences of depression has revealed that gender has a significant impact on the success of mental health treatment.

According to UWS School of Psychology PhD graduate Dr Zakaria Batty, men and women cope with and receive treatment for depression in distinct ways.

"Australia's suicide rate currently shows men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women," Dr Batty says.

Dr Batty says part of the reason for this alarming rate is that men aren't accessing the therapy services available because the services are not adequately targeting men's needs.

The study of nearly 400 men found a range of gender role conflict issues that impede successful treatment for depression, including men's tendency to conceal vulnerability inhibiting their ability to openly seek help.

"Fears of mental health stigma in the community, and lack of support to seek therapy from family and friends, often prevent men from accessing treatment," Dr Batty says.

Education is an important factor in reducing this stigma and appropriate messages about mental health should be taught to boys at an early age and circulated throughout the community for everyone, he says.

However, health professionals can also help by being mindful of the additional issues that men face when seeking help and coping with depression.

Professor Jane Ussher from the UWS School of Psychology, who collaborated on this research, has recently conducted a study with the Nepean Division of General Practitioners that found GPs were more likely to refer women than men for psychological support.

She says, out of 746 referrals to psychologists only 30% of these were for men. "GPs say this is because men are less likely to visit their doctor, and even when they do, are less likely to talk about psychological problems because of mental health stigma.

"However, the men who did receive psychological treatment found it very beneficial, suggesting that more discussion and information about mental health services may increase men's willingness to seek help," Professor Ussher says.

According to Dr Batty, men tend to use medication for depression because they can avoid the stigma and emotional expression associated with counselling therapy.

However GPs and therapists can accommodate men's preferences for treatment, and need to consider that taking the step to seek counselling is a real milestone for many men - one that needs to be encouraged as a strength, says Dr Batty.

Dr Batty says by changing common names for therapy treatment men may be more likely to access help and complete treatment with success.

"Where men might shirk from the prospect of attending 'counselling', they may be open to attending 'classes', 'workshops' or 'seminars'.

"Simple interventions like this provide men with coping strategies that can help tackle this growing trend of rising depression rates in men, head on."

Source: University of Western Sydney

Explore further: Subconscious learning shapes pain responses

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

41 minutes ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

4 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

4 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

Subconscious learning shapes pain responses

May 22, 2015

In a new study led from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, researchers report that people can be conditioned to associate images with particular pain responses – such as improved tolerance to pain – even ...

All sounds made equal in melancholy

May 22, 2015

The room is loud with chatter. Glasses clink. Soft music, perhaps light jazz or strings, fills the air. Amidst all of these background sounds, it can be difficult to understand what an adjacent person is ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.