Depression can look very different in men and women. And many of its hallmarks — rage, risk-taking, substance abuse and even workaholism — can hide in plain sight.
Now researchers say that when these symptoms are factored into a diagnosis, the long-standing disparity between depression rates in men and women disappears.
That conclusion overturns long-accepted statistics indicating that, over their lifetimes, women are 70% more likely to have major depression than men. In fact, when its symptoms are properly recognized in men, major depression may be even more common in men than in women, according to a study published Wednesday by the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
The findings help unravel a mystery that has long puzzled mental health authorities: If men are so much less likely than women to be depressed, why are they four times more likely to commit suicide?
"When it comes to depression in men, to some extent we have blinders on," said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a psychiatrist who studies depression at UCLA. "We have not been asking about and taking into account a range of symptoms that may be gender-specific."