The economic and social environments of males in Western nations will lead to an increase in the incidence of depression among men, psychiatrists from the USA wrote in the British Journal of Psychiatry. As the 21st century progresses, men will face greater risks of developing depressive disorders, say Emory University School of Medicine experts.

According to author Dr Boadie Dunlop:

“Women are almost twice as likely to develop major depressive disorder in their lifetime as men. But we believe this difference may well change in the coming decades.”

Dr Dunlop, along with Tanja Mletzko have identified two factors which are likely to increase depression rates among men in Western nations as this century progresses:

  • Men are being encourage to talk about their feelings more openly, rather than being stoical and tough.
  • The traditional blue-collar and manual jobs so prevalent in Western nations are either closing down and opening in lower-income nations, or being done away with due to modern technological advances.

Dr Dunlop said:

“Dubbed by some the ‘Mancession’, the economic downturn has hit men particularly hard because of its disproportionate effect on traditional male industries such as construction and manufacturing. Research has shown that roughly 75% of jobs lost in the United States since the beginning of the recession in 2007 were held by men. There is little reason to believe that traditional male jobs will return in significant numbers with economic recovery.

Furthermore, Western women are increasingly becoming the primary household earners, with 22% of wives earning more than their husbands in 2007, versus only 4% in 1970. Compared to women, men attach greater importance to their roles as providers and protectors of their families, and men’s failure to fulfil the role of breadwinner is associated with greater depression and marital conflict.”

He concluded:

“Western men will face a difficult road in the 21st century, particularly those with low levels of education. We believe economic and societal changes will have significant implications for men’s mental health, and mental health practitioners need to be aware of these issues.”

“Will current socioeconomic trends produce a depressing future for men?”
Boadie W. Dunlop, MD and Tanja Mletzko, MA
The British Journal of Psychiatry (2011) 198: 167-168. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.084210

Written by Christian Nordqvist