Why Women Experience Depression More Than Men by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., Carla Grayson, Ph.D. & Judith Larson, Ph.D.Researchers have known for years that women experience depression more often than men do, but the reason for this gender difference has not been clear. A study published by researchers provides some answers by showing how social conditions and personality characteristics affect each other and contribute to the gender differences in depressive symptoms. In the study, psychologists Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., and Carla Grayson, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan and Judith Larson, Ph.D., of Atherton, CA, interviewed 1,100 adults between the ages of 25 and 75 years old from three ethnically diverse California cities. Results suggest that women may more often than men get caught in a cycle of despair and passivity because of the interaction of lower mastery (lower sense of control) over important areas of life and more chronic strain and rumination (chronically and passively thinking about feelings). For these women, more chronic strain led to more rumination over time, and more rumination led to more chronic strain over time. The study's authors say the chronic strain the women in the study reported were "the grinding annoyances and burdens that come with women's lower social power. Women carried a greater load of the housework and child care and more of the strain of parenting than did men." The authors also found women felt less appreciated by their partners than men did. "Rumination may maintain chronic strain because it drains people of the motivation, persistence, and problemsolving skills to change their situations," said the authors. "Failing to do what one can to overcome stressful situations such as an unfulfilling marriage or an inequitable distribution of labor at home perpetuates these situations." While this study cannot answer the question of which comes first, rumination or chronic strain, the researchers say the interaction of the two makes it more difficult to overcome either one. So what is a depressed woman, under chronic strain and ruminating or lacking a belief that she can control her life, to do? The authors conclude "helping women achieve a greater sense of control over their circumstances and engage in problem solving rather than ruminating should be useful. Changing the social circumstances that many women face so that they do not have so much to ruminate about is equally important." Reference: Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., Carla Grayson, Ph.D. and Judith Larson, Ph.D. Explaining the Gender Difference in Depressive Symptoms. (1999). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 77, No. 5. Revised 2/1/10 by Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D. SELF HELP MAGAZINE A series of topics further examined and analyzed. depression rate and recurrence differences. however it still provides a possible explanation for the occurrence. women feeling less womanly. and parenting roles will illustrate that there are many gender differences influenced by environment which can lead to depression. Hormonal regulation largely affects the rate of depression in women. In addition it is true that men tend to value attractiveness and youth in their mates much more than do women. Following the rules of evolution after a woman becomes infertile she is less desired by men because the purpose in having intercourse is to produce offspring. and comorbidity differences. is largely affected by environmental roles and must be taken into account for when comparing women and men. The sex-/gender-role identity difference theory. also known as menopausal symptoms. When including vasomotor instability rates as a cause of depression. depression rate and recurrence differences. Mulé Rochester Institute of Technology This review describes the gender differences associated with depression. age prevalence of depression differences. sex/gender. women appear to have higher rates of depression than do men. rates of depression increased from 39% to 55% (Formanek & Gurian. In conclusion it seems likely that women are more susceptible to depression because of gender differences in roles. Therefore it can be concluded that the susceptibility of depression. (A brief glossary of terms used in this article appears in Table 1. This article reviews evidence and findings related to the severe susceptibility of depression in women over men. reproductive potential. 1998). and comorbidity differences. not facts. illustrates increased depressive rates and vasomotor instability (hot flashes). 1987).) Although there are many theories that support why women are more susceptible to depression than men. the explanation for this difference is not understood well. These thoughts can occur at menopausal stages because women become infertile and feel they have aged and are elderly. Hormones and heredity factors are taken into account and provide some evidence of truth when comparing depression susceptibility between women and men. The increase in depression rates can also be attributed to. consider that these are just theories.Why Women Are More Susceptible to Depression: An Explanation for Gender Differences Christina M. which have led to differences in the experience of life events. age prevalence of depression differences. can best answer why women are more susceptible to depression. The topics of focus will include biological differences (hormones).role identity differences. However. society. These theories include: biological differences. and health" (Ben Hamida. Mineka & Bailey. "Men prefer youthfulness because it is likely to be associated with higher fertility. In addition experiments will be introduced to accompany and further support possible explanations. will provide possible explanations for these findings. Many different theories or potential explanations will be offered to better understand this phenomenon. The specific difference in depression between women and men cannot be easily explained. sex-/gender-role identity differences. On the basis of strong and consistent evidence. . Biological Differences The degree to which biological factors impinge on the severe susceptibility of depression in women over men is rather trivial. In this theory gender. Estrogen depletion. she is more than likely to become depressed herself due to environment and genetic predisposition. Emerging gender differences can be caused by individual vulnerability. 1998). An example of this hypothesis would be: If a woman’s parent was depressed. which refers to ongoing "background" stressors that tax one’s coping abilities and resources. postpartum period. Having a family member present who is depressed. This hypothesis will be further examined through the careful analysis of research and experimentation. menstruation. that is. becomes a chronic environmental strain. as stated previously. The sources of chronic strain are myriad. but are rather referred to as a "mid-life" crisis or depression. men do have symptoms similar to menopause. & Grayson. Gender Differences in Adolescent Depressive Symptoms "Gender differences in depressive symptoms appear to emerge in early adolescence and then remains throughout the adult life span" (Nolen-Hoeksema. who have only one x chromosome (Nazroo & Edwards. 1998). contraceptive drugs. the phenotype theory is just a possible explanation for the susceptibility of depression in women. "Such a specific difference cannot be explained easily as a result of biology. To compare hormonal differences between men and women would be unfair. 2002). A second possible genetic explanation involves the phenotype (the observable physical or biochemical characteristics of an organism. Larson. it has been suggested that girls are more vulnerable to depression than boys even before adolescence (Ge & Conger. particularly among women because rates of depression did not vary by parity" (Nazroo & Edwards. If the gene for depression is located in the x chromosome and the trait is dominant. 2003). as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences) of women. Consistent findings indicate that adolescent girls develop depressive symptoms at an earlier age than do adolescent boys. It is evident that phenotypic traits influence the rate of depression. The indistinctness remains unsolved because it is virtually impossible to perform an experiment of having women separate their feelings of depression from menopausal states. based on theoretical hypotheses. 1993). and pubertal transitional challenge. who have two x chromosomes. However. However. This explanation hypothesizes that genetics and environmental influences together may result in the depression of women. This occurs because women have a higher tendency of awareness of their surroundings and are typically closely interconnected with their family members. we must remember that this is just a hypothesis—a tentative explanation. However. It is certain that women experience many more hormonal changes than do men (due to childbirth.Both the many facts about hormones as well as the mind-set concerning menopause cause uncertainty as to what exactly produces the depression. premenstrual syndrome. One possible genetic explanation is x-linkage. and menopause). however its affects are stronger in women. the position of the relevant locus on the x chromosome. not a concrete fact. Phenotypes affects men as well. It is almost impossible to explain why women are more susceptible than men to depression when referring to biological differences. examples include unstable or unsafe housing (Kimberling & Ouimette. However. Although girls and boys go through puberty at the relatively same age. In support of genetic transmission as an explanation for the sex differences there is reasonable evidence from twin and family studies that genetic factors are operating in the genesis of depression and affective disorders (Nazroo & Edwards. females. will be more often affected than males. Hereditarily speaking genetic transmission may cause women to be more susceptible to depression. parallel to women. . life stress. 1999). There can not be definite conclusions. Two likely rationales will be given to support the hereditary theory and provide evidence that causes women to be more susceptible to depression. 1998). "depression may be a precursor rather than a consequence of emotional responses associated with menopause" (Denmark & Paludi. The interactive and additive effects of early depressive symptoms. It is clear that girls are more susceptible to depression even in adolescence. Gender roles will be closely examined. 1974). The experiment provides conclusions and theories that have never been proven prior. 2003). 1998). During the first visit.and late adolescence and that the interaction between gender-linked vulnerabilities (diathesis) and the new biological and social challenges of early adolescence (stress) creates greater risk for depression for adolescent girls than boys (Ge & Conger. Yet again. and stressful life events will have interactive as well as additive main effects on risk for depressive symptoms. and will provide examples of the limitations placed upon women. The results found that early depressive symptoms carry forward to mid. emotions and life events experienced by family members. but there is no concrete evidence to prove why. Studies have also found higher levels of depressive symptoms in girls than in boys as young as 12 years of age and have consistently found gender differences from then on out (Nolen-Hoeksema & Girgus. The higher average level of depressive symptoms among girls.and late adolescence. Boys and girls with higher levels of depressive symptoms in early adolescence will show higher levels of depressive symptoms in mid. this has never been reported in earlier studies of adolescent depression. the pubertal transition. 1994). Interviewers visited each family at their homes for approximately 2 hours on each of two occasions. will become evident during early adolescence. pp. 2003). causing the likelihood of depression in women. However. compared with boys.) . 2003. The choice of method was a 6-year longitudinal study of 451 families that lived in central Iowa. each of the family members was asked to independently complete a set of questionnaires focusing upon individual characteristics. 1990 Recent evidence suggests that the higher prevalence of clinical and subclinical depression among females results because one subtype of depression. although this conclusion was found from the experiment. depressives (girls and boys) were found to come from families in which there was marked striving for prestige with the patient as the instrument of this need. The following hypotheses guided the analysis (Ge & Conger. These limitations have been taken a long way. Early depressive symptoms. the family showed marked concern for social achievement and the childhood background was characterized by envy and competitiveness (Weissman & Paykel. (Some explanations of why women become more depressed then men are illustrated in Table 2 and focus on status and gender identity. These independently reported emotions and events were used to come up with the conclusion (Ge & Conger." --Gesell.The experiment had many hypotheses that were evaluated. and stressful life events will explain a significant portion of the association between gender and depressive symptoms. However. it is difficult to determine why women are more susceptible to depression. which is rooted in limitations placed upon women (Silberstein & Lynch. the pubertal transition. Boys and girls with advanced pubertal status during early adolescence will manifest higher levels of depressive symptoms. Gender Stereotypes and Identity Roles "The subtle influence of sex upon a person’s perceptions may vary with each observer and play both an unconscious and conscious role in influencing actions taken. 4-5): • • • • • • Girls will demonstrate higher average levels of depressive symptoms than adolescent boys will during adolescence. These roles are very closely related. 1993). and independent" (Kimberling & Ouimette. the quality of marriage is more strongly related to home life satisfaction for women compared to men (Denmark & Paludi. women who are employed feel dissatisfaction with the amount of time they are allotted for their children and spouse. The media publicizes what is beautiful. A woman’s role as a wife. However. Because women have been labeled in the past as child caretakers. Stereotypes that women should be beautiful and refined are ones that influence the American culture to such a great extent. might be more crucial to impression of women than of men (Denmark & Paludi. because marriage may be the main basis to raise children. 1993). Through the analysis of these two gender roles.g. such as depression and eating disorders. 2001). the greater his satisfaction with her work schedule and her overall time allocation (Denmark & Paludi. Ratings by fathers revealed that the more time the mother spent. the time over which the married woman undertakes other roles in addition to being a mother is becoming longer (Weissman & Paykel. in the form of services. Similarly to that statement. and in particular physical attractiveness. this stereotype has been hard to break. who have fewer alternatives. This difference may be attributed to gender differences in the psychological purpose of marriage. 1993). Eating disorders will be evaluated further in the section of comorbidity. The average level of role strain for mothers who have careers was not greatly affected. "Although women are usually socialized to be emotionally expressive. come gender identities. With decreasing family size. 2002). and to direct their achievement through affiliation with others. no matter how many roles they take on in their everyday life.Many stereotypes that have been placed upon women help in the gender-related limitations. On the opposite spectrum. may invest more emotionally in their marital roles (Denmark & Paludi. nurturing. these two disorders are extremely comorbid with each other. In reference to marriage. When in reference to women. Some researchers have suggested that information about physical appearance. men’s perceptions over sharing tasks appeared to depend only on how satisfied they were with the division of tasks. 1974). in child care tasks. Thus. Through the analysis of these stereotypes. because of stereotypes and misconceptions women tend not to complain about their gender roles. and caretaker contribute to the levels of everyday stress. fathers’ involvement with children average about 30 hours a week and do not significantly vary with wives’ employment (Denmark & Paludi. it typically has value and merit if two partners love each other. From this it can clearly be stated that these differences may result in tension between two partners. 1993). the belief that women are viewed as inferior to men is not far fetched. However. Correspondingly with gender roles. . Males may have more instrumental gains from marriage (e. Females. not companions. In modern times the idea that "thin is beautiful" has become the socially accepted norm. The gender stereotypes can be said to affect gender identities the most severely. assertive. spend about 70 hours a week with their children. Thus. 2002). worker. There are very few families in our society that have males as the primary caretaker of their children. Women are conflicted to live up to these stereotypical roles and expectations of perfection everyday. However. it is evident that women are dissatisfied with their gender responsibilities. And thus may result in depressive feelings for women that may leave them feeling as if they were servants to their husbands. these contributing factors if taken to the extreme can result in dangerous feelings and habits. Women reported higher rates of their partners as less caring and as more likely to be a depressogenic stressor (Wilhelm & Roy. starting in third grade (Hankin & Abramson. and the fact that they know their wives are not happy about it does not lower their marital satisfaction (Denmark & Paludi. such as housekeeping). many men appear to be happy when they are not sharing in domestic tasks. relative to him. Women even if employed. 1993). mother. and more often than not women don’t seem to equate to these looks. The qualities of each of these roles are looked at differently through the eyes of women and men. A catalog of different stereotypes between women and men is revealed in Table 3. An additional role that women partake in that is parallel to marital roles is parental roles. Girls show less satisfaction with their physical appearance than do boys. men are usually socialized to be emotionally inhibited. increasing longevity. The stereotypes concerning women are endless. and increased self-expectation.. Women are faced with the problem of how to make their lives meaningful. 1993). The disorders that largely affect women include: eating disorders and anxiety. 2002). and desire of others above their own (Smolak & Fairman. eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders (anxiety disorder) are all interconnected. food rituals (shifting food around. externalizing. because it is a prime time to prepare for physical relationships with the opposite sex. "Depressive disorders show substantial comorbidity with other psychiatric disorder. frequent and long trips to the bathroom (often with running water). hiding food). Two of the most widespread eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. The awareness or sensitivity may be caused between the ages of 16 and 18. 2001). twice as many girls have experienced an anxiety disorder" (Hankin & Abramson. Girls fear rejection so much that they are willing to put the needs. A 4-year longitudinal study of community adolescent girls found the peak risk for the onset of binge eating to occur at 16 and the peak onset for purging to occur at age 18 (Hankin & Abramson. such as rape and domestic violence to experience shame about their environment in the traumatic experience and to be rejected or blamed by others. A potential reason for the susceptibility of depression in girls and women is that they are at a much higher risk for the potential to be raped or sexually assaulted in our society. Eating disorders result in mental and physical health problems. 2001). and specific phobia. because at these times girls are very aware of their appearances. resulting in compulsions such as working out and dieting. such that by age 6.Comorbidity As stated in Table 1. Though research in this area is limited the comorbidity between anxiety disorders and depression will help provide a solution as to why it is that women are more susceptible to depression over men. The extent to which women are concerned with their appearances may become quiet frightening and create severe depressive cognitions. and pale or "gray" skin. 2002). or keeping utensils from touching lips. "These symptoms can be linked with women. In this section of comorbidity. Women most obviously want to be desired by the opposite sex and in result go to great lengths to appear attractive. Social phobia comorbid with depression is likely to be one of the most difficult disorders to treat. Shame and interpersonal rejection have also been theoretically linked to the development of social phobia. 2002). such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). "Statistics prove that girls develop anxiety disorders earlier and at a faster rate than boys. There is certain proof that OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is comorbid with depression. panic disorder. but well known documented studies have not been completed to show the affects of this comorbidity on women. . since more women have been diagnosed with lifetime histories of eating disorder than men" (Hankin & Abramson. Rejection and blame from others will occur because people believe that women subject themselves to situations that can lead to no good. the focus will be directed to social phobia consequently due to the large affects on women. hair loss. and eating disorders" (Hankin & Abramson. raising the possibility of shared etiology for the two disorders (Kimberling & Ouimette. interests. obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD). especially anxiety. Depressed men and women comorbid with social phobia may pose distinct treatment challenges because they may be less likely to accept referral into a therapy group given their fear of being exposed to the scrutiny of others and speaking in front of a group (Kimberling & Ouimette. 2001). social phobia. Symptoms of these eating disorders are: obsession with weight. The depressive thoughts of being unattractive may eventually lead to obsessive thoughts of being beautiful. cutting food into tiny pieces. These eating disorders seem to be age appropriate. comorbidity is the presence of coexisting or additional diseases with reference to an initial diagnosis or with reference to the index condition that is the subject of study. 2001). One theory is that depression. have been largely and functionally linked to depressive thoughts that affect women and adolescent girls. Anxiety disorders. It is common for victims of interpersonal traumas. Although women are diagnose with comorbidity of anxiety disorders and depression twice as often as men.The cumulative burden of multiple diagnoses (comorbidity) may be that it has been strongly associated with decreased well-being. I can only conclude that the susceptibility of depression in women is so high. However this study is only a small sample of a population. Though this is true. there are many possibilities given to solve this indefinite difference. Nevertheless. it is still not clearly evident as to why women are more susceptible to depression than men. whereas 26% of males had greater than one depressive episode compared to 26% of females (Hankin & Abramson. Therefore. 74% of males had only one lifetime depressive episode compared to 74% of females. the rates and pattern of comorbid disorders seem quite similar across the genders (Kimberling & Ouimette. were all given. Though the hypothesis that women have higher recurrence rates then men has been found to be incorrect--it is still fact that recurrence increases depressive cognitions. 1998). family troubles. In the course of this review article. 2002). From the evidence given. and emotions associated with a particular gender. Evident characteristics include: attempted suicide (para-suicide). Recurrence may be easily detected in some cases. comorbidity. 1998). Recurrence Rates Recurrence is a new occurrence of a disorder after a period of remission of symptoms lasting for over a period of 2 months. the life events for women and men vary across the board. there is no way to possibly detect what exactly causes the large difference in susceptibility of depression. age prevalence. but that more females than males will go on to have greater than one lifetime episode (Hankin & Abramson. This hypothesis is later proven to be incorrect by substantial data gathered. and a greater likelihood of seeking help for depression than men (Wilhelm & Roy. and poor psychosocial adjustment (Kimberling & Ouimette. so therefore this information should not be interpreted as a population recurrence rate. The experiences women go through in life are much different than the experiences that men do. and social inabilities. compromised health and quality of life. 2002). However none provided concrete evidence to solve such a phenomenon. gender stereotypes and identity roles. because of environmental factors. The environmental factors include the gender stereotypes and identity roles. These obstacles are just additives to all the gender stereotypes and identity roles that women already deal with. The possibilities of biological differences. thoughts. Thus resulting in a probable cause of susceptibility. Table 1. Definitions of Key Terms Gender Typing--The process of developing the behaviors. The recurrence hypothesis states that equal proportions of males and females will experience at least one episode of depression (the first episode). 2002). it is a reminder that the comorbidity theory is just a possible reason behind why women are more susceptible to depression. . with women consistently reported as having a twofold lifetime prevalence of depression. and recurrence rates. Summary of Women's Susceptibility The noting of widespread gender differences in rates of depression now dates back two decades. Women weigh events as more stressful Women are more willing to acknowledge symptoms Women seek help more often Men use more alcohol Men are more often into legal difficulties Disadvantage of women’s social status Learned helplessness Demographic changes Genetic Transmission Female endocrine physiology Table 3. Susceptibility--The capacity to be affected by deep emotions or strong feelings. Table 2. Comorbidity--The presence of coexisting or additional diseases with reference to an initial diagnosis or with reference to the index condition that is the subject of study. and thoughts of death. 4th edition. feelings of extreme sadness.Depression--A psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate. helplessness and hopelessness. Real Psychosocial • • • • • Women are under more stress. and outcome or survival. Explanations for the Increased Rates of Depression in Women (Formanek & Gurian. insomnia. origin. growth. sensitivity. and emotions of a specific gender based upon the views of a particular society or culture. including their structure. evolution. loss of appetite. 8) A. Also called clinical depression. Social Roles--Accepted behaviors associated with a particular position within a group. cost factors. DSM-IV--Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Biology--The science of life and of living organisms. anhedonia. thoughts. 1987. Artifact Differences in reporting stress and distress • • • • • • B. Gender Role--The accepted behaviors. Gender Stereotypes Characteristics of the Female Stereotype • • • • • • • Characteristics of the Male Stereotype • • • • • • • Affectionate Gullible Cheerful Childlike Compassionate Does not use harsh language Eager to soothe hurt feelings Acts as a leader Aggressive Ambitious Intelligent Assertive Athletic Competitive . p. and distribution. it may be used as a prognostic indicator for length of hospital stay. Externalization--To project or attribute (inner conflicts or feelings) to external circumstances or causes. Comorbidity may affect the ability of affected individuals to function and also their survival. function. guilt. and this fact severely limited her arguments for why depression was more common in women. Mulé. She based her argument on Denmark and . whether they acknowledge it or not." thus implying that men are not conflicted by social stereotypes and expectations. the author casually explained that women were more aware of their surroundings and therefore were more prone to feel depressed around other depressed individuals. etc. Later in the topic Mulé discussed how parental roles affect depression and how women are more often than not the primary caretakers of children. Here is where I believe the author could have made a bold point about the cognitive failures of women to manage their stress. and a large part of athleticism is being constantly aware of the situation. Where this idea came from is unclear. Again this statement did not seem to have any merit. She completely ignored the fact that social roles could play an equal part in depression in both sexes. The author also seemed to state that women were more closely interconnected with family members." by Christina M. and what arguments could support it is also unclear. Men are socialized to be independent and inhibited.• • • • • • • • • • • • • Feminine Flatterable Gentle Loves children Loyal Sensitive to the needs of others Shy Soft-spoken Sympathetic Tender Understanding Warm Yielding • • • • • • • • • • • • • Defends own beliefs Dominant Forceful Has leadership abilities Independent Individualistic Makes decisions easily Masculine Self-reliant Self-sufficient Strong personality Willing to take a stand Willing to take risks Peer Commentary It's Not Easy Being Male Either Josiah P. Men are bred to be competitive and thus are always watching for possible threats or rivals. She did not bother. This commentary is by no means an attempt to start a gender battle but is an honest look at certain points in which faulty assumptions were made by the author to support her arguments. which can lead to severe depression. Mulé did not try to enlighten readers on why men did not get depressed in their daily roles as compared with women. to discuss any possible stress in the lives of men. Men are by general stature more athletic. Mulé stated. however. One can easily argue the opposite. Near the end of her discussion on biological differences. Allen Rochester Institute of Technology In "Why Women Are More Susceptible to Depression: An Explanation for Gender Differences. because they choose to. Mulé strongly argued that gender stereotypes play a significant role in how women are perceived and thus perceive themselves. given that she declined to argue the point and assumed that men were more often cold and distant in relation to their family. which often leads to loneliness and inability to communicate. "Women are expected to live up to these stereotypical roles and expectations of perfection everyday…. given the fact that women often have a larger workload then men. points were made that gloss over the issue of depression in men. The author stated. providing clear and valid support for the arguments would be a good idea." while offering no effective backing for the statement. In the future. "Women are faced with the problem of how to makes their lives meaningful. The one article she cited (Nazroo & Edwards. Mulé's paper is well done. Under the very first heading on Biological Differences. Although there is some evidence for the theory in her references. because I highly doubt that the average 6 year old girl would worry about sexual assault. even though the research did show that they were more depressed and provided likely causes for the depression. Mulé’s work seemed to have an insistence that on average life is harder for women.Paludi's (1993) work. Peer Commentary Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater Joshua M. Trying to pin the blame on sociocultural influences alone. or other stresses any more than a boy. but it glossed over the biological basis for the difference. that women in general were not happy with their responsibilities. She simply concluded. and the belief that women must agree to a larger role in the household would be a strong addition to her point. This claim would be fine if Mulé did not do an about face in the very next section on gender stereotypes and identity roles. but the results are obvious. interpersonal trauma. Beck's cognitive theory states that depression is caused by negative thoughts and dysfunctional beliefs. painting an . Rosenberg Rochester Institute of Technology Mulé's paper offered several interesting explanations for the demonstrated increased rate of depression in women. it is still hard to pinpoint a strong cause for the relatively high rates of female depression. which one can assume is valid. 1998) had an essentially invalid conclusion. This finding seems to be an argument for a difference that exists from birth. but by ignoring the plight of men for empirical comparison. In this study. rather than a socially ingrained response. given that the quotes are often not directly related to the studies' primary focus. The points Mulé made on the sociocultural origins of female depression rates are often quite interesting." This study specifically excluded all couples who did not experience such an event. however. while rejecting the other possible rationales. just as women would be. Pointing out that girls have had twice the rate of anxiety disorders by age 6 would seem to weaken Mulé's subsequent arguments. using theories that have spotty support as a basis for a sweeping claim that sociocultural influences are to blame for the gender disparity. the authors concluded that women are only at a greater risk for depression following serious "life events. it is obvious that author bias clouds the decision making process where she evaluates competing theories. she claimed several times that biological factors are "rather trivial. Similarly Mulé claimed that studies of depression in early adolescence cannot explain why women are more susceptible to depression. Mulé’s work is indeed admirable. so this finding is baseless. Aside from issues with author bias. Attempting to evaluate all of the disparate theories rather than rejecting them out of hand would lend authority to the paper. Of course men are satisfied with less work." And men do not have this problem? This may be one of the largest contributors to male depression. especially during the common male mid-life crisis. without bothering to look at the conflicts and stresses of men. there was equally valid evidence discounted earlier. I recommend evaluating her sources oneself to get a better idea of their results. Using this article as the only support for her position that biological factors are trivial does not do a particularly good job of convincing me. is reactionary. Alhtough Mulé's points are not intrinsically flawed or necessarily wrong. restricted affection between men. These finding suggest that depression is more likely to be identified in women than in men with equivalent symptoms. and Gregory (2003) proposed to investigate the generality of the gender role conflict constructs (success. For example. which might help us to understand some biases in gender-related stereotypes.incomplete picture of the issue. M. This outcome would provide evidence against gender specific effects and would not support a socialization explanation. Women are more prone to seek help than men. levels of restricted emotionality would be comparable for men and women. Depressed women are also more prone to express their symptoms than men who view depression as unproductive and self-indulgent and deny it. and moreover would be comparably related to depression and anxiety. The reasons include biological or hormonal differences. one would expect clinicians to see more depressed females than depressed males. Mulé's paper titled "Why Women Are More Susceptible to Depression: Explanation for Gender Differences. In terms of generality. Two studies (Verbrugge & Steiner. She claimed that women tend to be more prone to get depressed than men for various reasons. restrictive emotionality. in this scenario. restricted emotionality would be detrimental to the mental health of both men and women. The second possibility was that the correlations between the conflicts and mental health are invariant across genders but that mean differences exist. sex-/gender-roles. and competition. age prevalence. or come up with convincing evidence that they are flawed. depression may be underdetected in men and overdetected in women. It is also possible that genderrelated bias exists in clinical identification of depression. Zamarripa. Nolen-Hoeksema. and that whereas men tend to cut off the depression before it ramifies. however. In another study. Waitzkin. it may be that men restrict emotions to a greater extent . & Stoechle. Wampold. that is. 1981. rates of depression. women tend to remain focused on their depressed mood in ways that prolong its duration and extend its impact. she advances her own theory: that men and women respond to depressing life events differently. After exploring each of the possible causes. and conflicts between work and family) to women in terms of the presence of the conflict in men and in terms of the relation of the constructs to the mental health of women. On the basis of strong evidence. Another study by Loring and Powell (1988) provided sufficient evidence that psychiatric diagnosis is affected by a patient’s gender. For example. These tendencies may contribute to inflated female depression rates. She reviewed several theories about those causes and supported them with studies. Either acknowledge the opposing validity of the other viewpoints. The first possibility was that men and women manifest equal levels of the various conflicts. and recurrence. because women are stereotyped to be more prone to be depressed. 1979) were based on medical records and physicians' self-reports. Therefore. In research by S. Wallen. Peer Commentary The Power of Gender Biases Irina V. There are several factors we need to explore. and they may be more likely to be diagnosed with depression. and that these conflicts are similarly related to mental health. three possibilities existed." In her paper. comorbidity. Mulé explored the gender differences associated with depression. power. Sokolova Rochester Institute of Technology This is a commentary on C. women appear to have higher rates of depression than men. The results showed that medical clinicians were more likely to attend to psychological problems in women than in men. she stated that it is unclear exactly what causes depression. Therefore. Wampold & Gregory. men are socialized to be less expressive. The relation between success and depression and anxiety did not differ by gender. followed by men's affection toward women and women's affection toward other women. There is some evidence. 2003). indicating that the detrimental effects of restricted emotion operate similarly in men and women (Zamarripa. paranoia.e. The focus of gender role conflict in men. a result that confirms findings in the management literature. however. as predicted. power. inappropriate success. 2003). restricted emotionality is correlated with depression and anxiety for men and women) (Zamarripa. and restrictive emotionality than did women. 2003). Such men also reported higher anxiety and decreased social intimacy. studies have found that gender role conflict in men is negatively related to mental health. The third possibility was that there are mean and correlational differences. factors such as restricted emotionality or conflict between work and family. 2003). mean differences appeared as expected.. are simply aspects of personhood that are associated with mental health. for instance. consistent with a hypothesis that suggested that men are socialized to emphasize success at the expense of emotionality. Conflict between work and family was related to depression and anxiety in both men and women. that men are less expressive and that restricted emotionality is more detrimental for men than for women. psychoticism. for the most part. More studies should be conducted to find an exact and definite answer to the question of gender differences in depression. Wampold & Gregory. It was hypothesized that only inappropriate success would lead to depression and anxiety. Clearly. Author Response . however. 2003). Generally. 2003). restricted emotionality was related to depression. that women's experience of the conflict is problematic because they feel more responsible for family commitments and home tasks than do men (Zamarripa. restricted emotionality was not related to anxiety. Men showed higher levels of appropriate success. Also according to a socialization explanation. and depression (Zamarripa. Indeed. With regard to the gender role conflict variables. There were no differences between men and women with regard to conflict between work and family. appropriate success produced less depression and anxiety.than women. 2003). factors of socialization and expectations placed on men by society. As can be seen. and this creates particular intrapsychic conflicts for men that lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety (Zamarripa. whereas inappropriate success produced more depression and anxiety. Wampold & Gregory. Wampold & Gregory. Whereas the means for the various gender role conflict variables showed expected gender differences. however. Restrictive emotionality. with men's affection toward other men most restricted. There are. as part of gender role conflict. the topic of depression in men and womed is controversial. consistent with previous research. The means for restricted affection were arrayed as expected. and women's affection toward men the least restricted (Zamarripa. Wampold & Gregory. Men who emphasized success. Wampold & Gregory. A similar pattern emerged for women. the increase in women in the workforce has changed the role of women from supporting men's career progress to having to balance work and family roles. but that restricted emotionality is detrimental to both (i. nevertheless. These results contradict the notion posited by some that aspects of power and competition are uniquely detrimental to men and suggest that there are components of achievement that cannot be considered harmful in any way and may be protective (Zamarripa. and competition as a measure of their personal worth or value and men who restricted their emotional expression tended to be more anxious and depressed regardless of age (and were also less likely to seek psychological help) than women. Wampold & Gregory. was associated with interpersonal insensitivity. For men. but the results marginally supported a significant relation between inappropriate success and depression only for women. indicating. the relation between these variables and depression and anxiety revealed few gender differences. A. Denmark. Development of depression from preadolescence to young adulthood: Emerging gender differences in a 10-year longitudinal study.. (2003). & Abramson. Mineka. in almost every psychology textbook or reference. Development of gender differences in depression: An elaborated cognitive vulnerability-transactional stress theory. Developmental Psychology. is reactionary. I accept.) References Ben Hamida. Formanek. This controversial issue will probably last a lifetime. & Paludi... (1987). 107. & Gurian. 1-19. 1-40. New York: Springer.). M. There is no possible way to pinpoint one matter as the cause of depression. but males seemed to be defensive in my saying that women are more susceptible to depression than are men. it would have been virtually impossible for me to compare and contrast the stressors in each gender's lives. (2001). I can assure readers that this will never happen. R. This paper was written in a timely fashion. the criticism that having this information would have made for a stronger paper overall. X. As stated before.. Ge. Mulé Rochester Institute of Technology Perhaps this paper seems a bit gender biased. and men will more than likely be offended by the standpoint that I proposed in this paper. In my defense. you will find that other researchers believe that women are more susceptible to depression than are men. & Bailey. (And these researchers include men.. In response to his criticism that I mentioned no stressors from the male's perspective. S. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. There can be multiple reasons for the susceptibility to depression in women. B. Allen made many good points in his peer commentary. Lastly. Psychological Bulletin. 1-20." I feel that the paper continuously stated that all given explanations for the susceptibility of depression in women were just possible explanations. R. 75. however. Pubertal transition. I can assure readers that the information used in this paper was well researched. L. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. L. S. B. (Eds. Women and depression: A lifespan perspective. however. CT: Greenwood Press.. their purpose was merely suggestive. J. stressful life events. while rejecting the other possible rationales. Hankin. and the emergence of gender differences in adolescent depressive symptoms. Psychology of women. painting an incomplete picture of the issue. 37. I in no way wanted to create a "war of the sexes" theme for this paper. (Eds. (1993). & Abramson. . (1998). "Trying to pin the blame on sociocultural influences alone.). They offered no concrete answers. Rosenberg wrote. L. L. None Definitive Christina M. Sex differences in perceived controllability of mate value: An evolutionary perspective. Hankin. 127. but the number of pages could have exceeded a book's length. F. 953966. L.Multiple Possible Causes. M. A. Sokolova gave the impression that the paper was well written but that the issue should be further researched and evaluated.. there is no way to pinpoint why there is such a gender difference in depression. and that is the message that I tried to convey in my paper. Westport. & Conger. D. (1998). She concluded that a "definite answer to the question of gender differences in depression" should be found. Nolen-Hoeksema. 1-15. D.Kimberling. L. B.. R. (1998). Wilhelm. Zamarripa. 424-443. 26. K. Nazroo. The depressed woman.. Male gender role conflict. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A. M. Journal of Counseling Psychology. (1994). Smolak. 50. & Paykel. K.. Gender and PTSD. M. depression and anxiety: Clarification and generalizability to women. K. 1061 -1072. The emergence of gender differences in depression during adolescence. S. Gender differences in depression risk and coping factors in a clinical sample. M. The relationship of gender and voice to depression and eating disorders. P.). Larson. E.. 106.. 45-53. 38. M. Wampold.. & Roy. J. Journal of Counsulting and Clinical Psychology. J.. J.. A. New York: Guilford. & Burnam M. B. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 609-615. & Lynch. & Ouimette. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 167-174. Y. Nolen-Hoeksema. S.. (1991). Sex Roles.. & Gregory. & Grayson.. biology or roles? Sociology of Health & Illness. B.. Gender differences in depression: The role played by paternal attitudes of male superiority and maternal modeling of gender-related limitations. (2003). (1974). . 115. Gender differences in the prevalence of depression: Artifact. 3. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. alternative disorders. 539-555. 1-15. X. (2002). Psychological Bulletin. 77. 20. (1998). Potts. B. A. Weissman. C. (1999). Wells. Explaining the gender difference in depressive symptoms. Silverstein. & Edwards.. & Girgus. S. (2002). Gendere differences in depression detection: A comparison of clinician diagnosis and standarized assessment. (Eds. (2003). & Fairman. E. E. K. S.
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