Is Male Depression Different From Female Depression?

Updated January 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: This article discusses suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, considering harming yourself or others, feeling that any other person may be in any danger, or if you have any medical emergency, you must immediately call the emergency service number (1-800-273-8255 in the US and 0800-689-5652 in the UK) and notify the relevant authorities. Seek immediate in-person assistance.

Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men, and there may be some underlying biological factors that contribute to this discrepancy. However, many scientists hypothesize that the main driver of the gender gap is that women are more likely to self-report symptoms, and men who experience depression and less likely to seek help, get a diagnosis, and receive treatment. This is a serious problem, and it’s likely a contributing factor to why men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, and a combination of psychotherapy and/or medication can help most people improve their symptoms and quality of life. 

Unsure Why You’re Feeling Angry All The Time?

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in the United States, and it can be serious and even life-threatening. Though 6.2% of adult males in the U.S. self-reported having a major depressive episode in 2020, it is estimated that the actual percentage of men who experience major depression is much higher.  

How Depression Varies By Gender

Most depressive symptoms are the same for both men and women. These include the following:

  • Irritability

  • Substance use

  • Angry outbursts

  • Overwhelming sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness

  • Crying easily or often

  • Loss of motivation, having trouble concentrating

  • Feeling worthless or engaging in self-blame

  • Lack of interest in hobbies that you used to enjoy

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Appetite and/or weight changes

  • Unexplained physical pain, such as headaches or gastrointestinal issues

  • Sleeping changes

  • Fatigue or restlessness

  • Thoughts of suicide

According to Dr. Andrew Angelino, a psychiatrist at Howard County General Hospital, men are more likely to experience anger, whereas women are more likely to experiencing excessive crying. This is likely due to the way children are taught to express their emotions based on their gender. In addition, according to a 2021 survey from the Institute of Psychology, men may be more likely to:

  • Use substances to self-medicate

  • Disconnect emotionally

  • Become aggressive

  • Engage in risky behaviors, including reckless driving

  • Die by suicide

Why Depression In Men Is Often Undiagnosed

To understand why men don’t often reach out for help, the American Psychological Association refers to the stereotypical image of a “strong man”, the Marlboro Man. The Marlboro Man, a tough cowboy, likely wouldn’t reach out for help, talk about his emotions, or even acknowledge having emotions. In many American families, the Marlboro Man represents the ideal version of masculinity. 

To adhere to the standards of masculinity, many men are taught as children to suppress their emotions. When men do not follow their gender expectations, they may face repercussions. For example, a study found that men who reveal a weakness while at work are seen as less competent by their peers. Additional studies find that men who act more supportive, empathetic, and emotionally available often experience harassment, lower pay, and are viewed as weaker. As a result, some men become unwilling to express emotional vulnerability or reach out for help. 

Additionally, symptoms of depression that are more common in men—such as experiencing increased aggression, risky behaviors, substance use, and anger—are not commonly discussed symptoms of depression. If you look up the symptoms of depression on a webpage, these symptoms may not be included. Due to a lack of knowledge, some men may blame external factors for a change in mood and behavior, rather than relating them to depression. 

Depression Is Treatable

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression now, that doesn’t mean you will be experiencing them forever. There are options available to help you. These include the following:

  • Medication

If you are experiencing moderate, severe, or chronic depression, antidepressants are shown to be effective in reducing symptoms. Your psychiatrist or your general practitioner can prescribe you the appropriate medications and monitor your side effects. You may have to try several different medications before finding the one that works best for you. 

  • Self-Help Practices 

Many practices are repeatedly shown to be helpful in preventing the occurrence of depressive symptoms and reducing the severity of symptoms. These include meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness, massage therapy, light therapy, gratitude journaling, listening to music, routine exercise, sufficient sleep, adequate nutrition, positive self-talk, and maintaining supportive social bonds. 

  • Psychotherapy

Though it can be difficult to reach out when you need help, it is often better to address mild depression before it becomes moderate or severe. Untreated depression can impact your relationships, physical health, and increase your chance of engaging in excessive alcohol use or risky behaviors. 

Psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is shown to effectively reduce the severity of depressive symptoms. CBT is a popular type of psychotherapy where therapists work with clients to acknowledge, understand, and reorient unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. For men who are worried about adhering to gender stereotypes and masculinity expectations, CBT can be oriented to address those feelings

If you are feeling uncertain about attending in-person therapy sessions, you can sign up for online therapy. A 2017 study found that online CBT, which is offered through sites like BetterHelp, is effective for many psychiatric disorders, including depression. Some men may find that it’s easier to be vulnerable about emotions when they are physically distant from their therapist, making online therapy a good option. 

Unsure Why You’re Feeling Angry All The Time?


Almost twice as many women are diagnosed with major depressive disorder as men. However, while there are some biological differences that may contribute to higher rates of depression in women, that’s not the full picture. 

Many men are reluctant to seek help due to unhealthy gender expectations, which can lead some men to hide their emotions. Additionally, some symptoms of depression are different in men, which can make recognizing depressive symptoms challenging. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, or if you just want to talk to confide in someone, you can reach out to a licensed therapist. Research shows that online therapy can reduce depressive symptoms, and many men prefer it to in-person therapy. 

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

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