Male depression overlooked by doctors

Mental charity chief says GPs should keep a keener eye out for distress among men, who tend to suffer in silence...

Many men are suffering in silence with depression because doctors are only trained to look for the condition in women, says UK mental health charity Mind.

The group claims that if more were done to diagnose male depression, many lives could be saved.  Mind says that despite the perception that women are more likely to experience depression, men are just as likely to suffer from the condition, and, in fact, are more likely to commit suicide.

Men make up three quarters of all suicides, and it is the commonest cause of death among those aged 16 to 35 in the UK. In the peak age group, 30 to 39, three men kill themselves for every woman who takes her life.

According to Mind CEO Paul Farmer, ‘Statistics tell us that women are more likely to have depression than men. In reality men are just as likely to experience depression, but are far less likely to seek help, be diagnosed or receive treatment.’

While depressed women can turn in on themselves, men suffering from the illness can become animated, aggressive and angry. In addition, they are less likely to ask for help because of stereotypes such as ‘real men don’t cry.’

The recommendations will suggest that surgeries be made more man-friendly, with male magazines in waiting rooms, and that men be given access to a network of all-male support groups where they might find it easier to talk about their problems.

The call was backed by Peter Baker, head of the Men’s Health Forum, who said that men needed male-only clinics and groups, just like women already have, to help deal with the taboo of depression and anxiety.

‘Men are less comfortable in the GP’s surgery than women and are not brought up to ask for help,’ said Baker, ‘they want to appear in control and not weak or vulnerable. But when men can’t cope, they are the ones who go missing, who kill themselves, or who end up on the streets.’

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