Change May Be Depressing for Men

Psychiatrists predict societal shifts will lead to more depression among men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As the economic and social environments of Western countries are changing, psychiatrists predict a shift in the condition of men's mental health, and it's not for the better.

Currently, women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop a major depressive disorder. However, Dr. Boadie Dunlop, from Emory University School of Medicine, and his colleague Tanja Mletzko believe that rates of depression among men will increase in the coming decades.

dailyRX Insight: Because "modern" men now talk about their feelings and the bad ecomony is wreaking havoc on men's feeling's of job security and money, there may soon be a slew of depressed men out there.

Dr. Dunlop and Mletzko base their prediction on two significant societal shifts that are occurring at this moment. First, the authors contend that men are increasingly being encouraged to talk more about their feelings. As men open up and stop acting tough, it is likely that depressive symptoms will be diagnosed where they were once hidden.

The second societal shift is related to the recent economic downturn in the economy and unemployment. Jobs that were traditionally held by men - such as manufacturing and physical labor - are not only being outsourced or becoming obsolete due to technological advances, they were also hit hardest by the global recession.

According to Dr. Dunlop, the economic downturn heavily impacted traditionally male industries such as construction and manufacturing. In fact, about 75 percent of jobs lost in the United States since the beginning of the recession were jobs held by men. Furthermore, it is very unlikely that many of these jobs will return after the economy recovers, adds Dunlop.

Women, on the other hand, have made large strides in the last 40 years with regards to employment. In 1970, four percent of wives were the primary household earners. By 2007, 22 percent of wives were the primary household earners.

As the roles of men and women change, Dr. Dunlop argues the mental health of men will be affected. He says that men attach a greater significance to their roles as breadwinners and protectors of their families. However, as men become less able to provide in such a way, their emotional state is affected negatively. Studies have shown, to no suprise, that men's inability to provide for their families is linked to increased rates of depression and conflict between spouses.

Dr. Dunlop concludes that mental health professionals should be aware of this shift. Men in Western countries - especially those with lower levels of education - will have to face a major change to their traditional roles in society, potentially having a significant impact on their mental health.

Depression impacts an estimated 15 million adults in the United States. Depression is a state of prolonged low mood and aversion to activity. A person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being are affected and may include feelings of sadness, anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, irritability, or restlessness. The primary treatments for major depression are psychological counseling and medications. Medication therapies include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). SSRIs include: fluoxetine (Prozac®), paroxetine (Paxil®), sertraline (Zoloft®), citalopram (Celexa®) and escitalopram (Lexapro®). SNRIs include: duloxetine (Cymbalta®), venlafaxine (Effexor®) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq®). Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is an NDRI. Atypical antidepressants include trazodone (Desyrel®) and mirtazapine (Remeron®). Each medication category has different side effects.

The predictions made by Dunlop and Mletzko are published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 7, 2011
Last Updated:
March 9, 2011