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Is There a Difference Between Male and Female Depression Symptoms?


Updated September 01, 2011

Question: Is There a Difference Between Male and Female Depression Symptoms?

Men and women share the same core set of depression symptoms: depressed mood, lack of motivation, loss of pleasure, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt and difficulty concentrating. However, studies suggest that there are some differences in the symptom patterns exhibited by men and women.

One study, which looked at how sadness is expressed in men and women, found that women more often showed visible signs of emotion, such as crying, while men tended to be more rigid and show less emotion.

Another study, which examined gender differences in symptoms believed to be more prevalent in men, such as irritability and anger, found that about three quarters of the 151 depressed patients sampled suffered from increased irritability, but there were no significant differences between men and women in how frequently they experienced irritability. However, the men suffered about twice as often as the women from anger attacks (episodes of intense, inappropriate anger). In addition, the frequency of these attacks was about three times higher in men.

Presumably, these differences occur because traditional gender roles allow women to communicate their feelings and ask for assistance, while men are expected to be strong and not need help. When men do not allow themselves to express their feelings freely, these feelings may bubble to the surface in other forms, such as anger attacks.

One other notable way in which men's and women's symptoms differ is that women are more likely than men to exhibit the atypical symptoms of depression, like sleeping excessively and overeating, in contrast to the typical symptoms, such as insomnia and loss of appetite.


Gorman, J. M. "Gender differences in depression and response to psychotropic medication." Gender Medicine 3.2 (2006): 93-109.

Winkler, Dietmar, Edda Pjrek and Siegfried Kasper. "Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks." The Journal of Men's Health & Gender 3.1 (March 2006): 19-24.

More About Gender Differences in Depression

  1. About.com
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  4. Am I Depressed?
  5. Depression Symptoms
  6. Difference Between Male and Female Depression Symptoms

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