Study: Stress Makes Men More Vulnerable to Depression Than Women

Sad man looking out of the window

Sad man | Source: iStock

We all experience stress from time to time, and repeated stress can have a major impact not only on our physical health but also mental health. In fact, constant stress can lead to depression. While women have been thought to suffer more from stress than men, recent studies have found that men actually exhibit more depressive symptoms as a result of continued stress. Results from research conducted at the University of Michigan School of Public Health revealed that men are 50% more susceptible to the impact of stress.

Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed race and gender differences in relation to response to stressful life events over a 25-year period to see if there was any long-term impact on the development of major depressive episodes later in life. What they found was that gender, and not race, was a strong contributing factor in how an individual responded to continued stress.

Why are men more sensitive to stress?

Lead researcher Dr. Shervin Assari said men may feel more of the impact because they are less likely than women to discuss negative emotions and stressors they face on a daily basis. “In our society, as men, we learn to see this as a weakness, as suggested by gender role identity theorists. Hegemonic masculinity is a barrier to seek care and talk about emotions. This at least in part explains why men less frequently seek help, either professional or inside of their social networks. Our research suggests this may come with a price for men,” Assari told Michigan News. It has also been proposed that men and women may handle stress differently, have different perceptions of risk, and different levels of exposure to stress.

What you can do

If stress and depression are negatively impacting you, there are some things you can do to get your life back.

Talk to a professional

a man talking to someone

A man talking to a professional | Source: iStock

Is something eating you up inside? Talk about it. Assari said that being a man is not just about being strong. He assures men that vulnerability and strength go hand-in-hand. “Men exposed to a lot of stress should take it seriously. They should know being a man is not all about power. It also comes with vulnerabilities,” Assari to Michigan News. You can find a trained mental health professional when you search Psychology Today’s online directory.

Pick up old hobbies

Have you abandoned hobbies you once enjoyed? Rediscover old passions that brought you joy. This will help you live a fuller, richer life. Get some family or friends involved so that you can use this time to reconnect. Brett and Kate McKay, founders of the blog The Art of Manliness, say hobbies provide a quality way to spend your free time. “The truth is that spending our leisure time in satisfying pursuits, ‘fun work,’ will refresh us far more than a non-stop marathon of playing Call of Duty. Hobbies can bring you joy, increase your eye for detail, keep your mind sharp, expand your creativity, and help you meet friends and learn valuable skills. They add interest to your life and help you become a more well-rounded [person]. If you’ve been feeling depressed, restless, or apathetic, the problem may be the lack of having something in your life you feel passionate about, something that brings you needed fulfillment,” said the McKays.

Reach out

Lend your time and talents by volunteering for a local cause. When you focus on others, this will help you feel happier and more grateful for the good things you do have.

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