How Gender Stereotypes Warp Our View of Depression

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How Gender Stereotypes Warp Our View of Depression

Recent research has shown that the stereotypes about male and female roles in life affect the way understand people who are depressed.

There are multiple examples where it’s visible that men and women who behave the same way in the exact same situation are treated differently due to their gender.

A new study suggests that people of both sexes are less likely to view men as being depressed and in need of professional help, although a male’s symptoms and a female’s symptoms are identical.

Researchers asked a group of approximately 600 adults to read a short description of a possible depressed person. This short description illustrated the diagnostic criteria for clinical depression (major depression):

For the past two weeks, Kate has been feeling really down. She wakes up in the morning with a flat, heavy feeling that sticks with her all day. She isn’t enjoying things the way she normally would. In fact, nothing gives her pleasure. Even when good things happen, they don’t seem to make Kate happy.

57 per cent of the participants claimed Kate’s symptoms indicated a mental health disorder, and more than 3/4 of those people correctly identified the disorder as depression. Only 10% said Kate did not have a problem.

The researchers then showed the same description to another group of 600 people. This time, they altered it to be applicable to a male person. Although that’s a small change, it had a majorly different effect. Results show that almost as many people recognized Jack as having a mental disorder (52%), but more than twice as many as than in Kate’s case said he did not (21%).

It’s possible that men weren’t very objective in Jack’s case because they may think that if this guy is having problems and may need treatment, they might be in the same position someday. In the study, men were more likely than women to recommend that Kate seek professional help, but this gap...
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