Women and Depression

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Depression is currently the fourth most common cause of disability worldwide (Culbertson, 1997). With depression being such a large issue in society, it cannot be looked at as a “one size fits all,” particularly when it comes to examining gender differences associated with mental health disorders (Smith and Jaffe, 2012). There are many social causes prevalent in society, varying by gender, which contributes to the risk of being diagnosed with depression or the rate to which they experience depression. Depression is the leading cause for disability in women and they are roughly twice as likely to experience depression as men. Some reasons for this may be that women tend to dwell on their problems, they experience victimization and they also must deal with the effects that estrogen has on the stress hormone and menstrual cycle. Men’s experiences with depression have not been as well understood as women’s. Although women may be diagnosed more then men, it does not mean that men suffer any less; they often suffer in silence. With the social constructions of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, it has created an atmosphere in which it negatively affects the willingness to seek help or treatment and the diagnosis of mental illnesses relating to health and health care. There is evidence to suggest that men are just as vulnerable as women to depression and for the same reasons that make women depressed but they remain undiagnosed and untreated (Zartaloudi, 2011). Men on average are less willing to seek help but are more reluctant to seek help in the case of depression. There are a larger number of men compared to women who suffer from problems closely related to depression such as alcohol and drug abuse and the suicide rates in men are very high. According to Real, “women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men because many health professionals, as well as family members and friends, may find it easier to diagnose women with depression more than men because of the fear of the stigma and shame surrounding depression for men, a disorder which is regarded as emotional and not a manly illness.” (Real, 1997) So in society it is hard to diagnose depression in men because they have a harder time admitting that they have it. With that being said, the social roles that we have created for both men and women create the need for different treatment options and care that will ultimately lead to the same result; successfully treating depression. The social conditions of life and the differences that are presented for individuals create different health care needs for everyone. The health care system often fails to address these differences and in doing so, it can often reinforce the inequalities (Payne & Doyal, 2010). It is important to recognize the different social processes present in society if the health care system is going to respond to the needs of individuals. Men are known to use health care services less than women, which can relate to men’s shorter life expectancies. So this leads to the problem of men not wanting to seek health care, as they want to look masculine and adhere to the gender role that society has created. These generalizations can be very harmful to both men and women as they can often affect the action one may take. For example, men also tend to wait longer to seek health care, as they do not use the services as much as women (Payne & Doyal, 2010). So in the case of depression, if men tend to wait longer, it could lead to alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide. One is held accountable for every action they perform to be appropriate to the sex category they adhere to. Because the rate of depression is about two times greater for women than men, depression can often be framed as a ‘women’s issue’ and therefore men do not want to admit to being depressed. Women also react differently as they are more likely to change their appetite, become emotional and lose weight where as...
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