At the core, depression for men and women is the same. Both genders suffer moods swings, lack of motivations and a loss of pleasure. Each undergoes some change in appetite. They can’t sleep and have trouble sleeping and concentrating on the simplest things. However, studies have shown that men and women do show difference in symptomatic patterns. The easiest way to describe is this, women tend to “act” inwardly against themselves, so to speak, while men tend to “act” outwardly at the world.
A depressed man will try to hide his condition, becoming irritable at the least little thing, or by drinking too much. He may even become a workaholic so as not to face his real problem or problems. He will in most cases of male depression, blame others for his problems instead of looking within for solutions. On the other hand, women blame themselves, regardless of the problem. They internalize and show it by overeating or under-eating, or doing too much in an effort to compensate for their perceived lack of self worth. While women become sad, apathetic, men get overly angry and ego driven, lashing out at all around them.
A man suffering depression tends to create conflict, welcoming it in fact, as a validation of his manhood and control. Women, on the other hand, usually avoid all confrontation and conflict at all costs. Depressed women attempt to conceal their inner pain by being docile or overly nice to their abusers. Men simply try to pick a fight or start an argument. Women withdraw into an inner isolation while men tend to attack others either verbally or physically. This is classically demonstrated in the domestic abuse cycle between couples.
A common theme for depressed women is that they don’t respect themselves nor demand it from others, while depressed men expect from everyone, even when they haven’t earned it. They feel the world works against them setting them up to fail, publicly to embarrass them. After sometimes years of feeling this way, they lash out, by killing their family, burning down the family home or flying a plane into a building as an act of defiance against a government agency. Women rarely act out in this overt fashion, preferring to kill themselves rather than others. Depressed women don’t feel they deserve to be respected or what ever problem they have, is their own fault and they deserve what they get from life.
One sociologist described it this way, she said that depressed women always feel guilty for what they do, while depressed men usually feel ashamed for who they are and feel frustrated when they don’t receive enough praise or appreciation for themselves or their work and accomplishments. Yet, when each gender ends up in therapy, women find it easy to talk things out, kind of reveling in the attention of the doctor’s attention and concern for their problems. Men, however, are terrified to talk about their weaknesses, fearing they will be perceived as less than manly. Psychologists tell us that men don’t feel safe in life unless they are perceived as the king of the world. Women need only to blend in, in order to feel safe. The tools of “self medication” are also different. Women abuse food, love and friends, while depressed me us alcohol, sports, watching television and sex, to fight off the effects of their illness.
Women believe things will turn around for them if only then can better themselves, while men are convinced that their problems will go away when everybody starts treating them better. To sum it up, women think they need to be more caring and lovable, while men feel they need to be loved more by those around them.