Depression in men: half as likely to be diagnosed but three times more likely to result in suicide. We need to talk about male mental health.

Men are half as likely as women to be diagnosed with depression, but three times more likely than women to kill themselves because of it.

Once upon a time, England's third richest man shocked the world by admitting he was suffering from depression. "About eight years ago I hit the buffers – it came totally out of the blue. One day, I woke up and couldn't get out of bed. I thought, OK, I'll be better tomorrow, but the next day was even worse. I couldn't face the world, couldn't handle social interactions of any sort. At that moment, all my wealth counted for nothing. I was fragile and, although never suicidal, I recognised something was desperately wrong and I needed to do something fast."

And that is how the Duke of Westminster came to take three months off in order to recover from a major depressive breakdown. Would that other men could be so well-advised or in a position to finance the opportunity.

By and large, men wouldn't touch such a confession with a barge pole. It seems to me there's a paradox in the depression literature, suggesting that while women provide the greatest symptomology of self-dislike, low self-esteem, pessimistic and negative personal thinking, leading to classical self-harming behaviours, men suffer from equally severe emotional problems. With exceptions such as the noble Duke, they just don't talk about them.

The official position is that currently one in six adults is depressed and women are twice as likely as men to get the diagnosis. But a report launched from the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) via the London School for Economics shows that the way organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) collect depression statistics is likely to under-calculate the totals for men.

At present, Nice employs a system called the "Quality of Life Years" method (Qaly). This relies on patients basically guessing how bad various illnesses might be if they were to contract them, an approach that critics claim is both dated and misrepresentative. (It gives rise to the joke that since some people think certain illnesses are "worse than death" the best way to improve the patient's Qaly statistic would be to kill them.)

The more modern "Subjective Well-being" method measures what actually happens to patients when they fall ill. These alternative calculations not only show that depression is 10 times worse than any other illness bar none, they also highlight how male depressives might manage to disappear from the data.

Today the NHS will tell you roughly 3-4 per cent of men have depression as against 7-8 per cent of women. But it's acknowledged that men are far less likely to seek medical help for their condition. In all cases, women out-use the health service compared with men, from puberty to age 75. Doctors are less likely to diagnose men with depression. And because of male "bravado" under the Qaly system, those who play down the existence of the problem and the severity of symptoms will automatically get a cleaner bill of health in their statistical result.

Does it matter? The UKCP report indicates that depression is not only the "worst illness in the world" because it traps you in "a prison without a door" (to borrow from psychologist Dorothy Rowe), it also costs you six times as much as the next most serious illness in terms of lost well-being. For precise values, a serious case of clinical depression will reduce quality of life by the equivalent of £44,237 each year as opposed to £5,556 each year for kidney trouble.

As a very broad generalisation, men show their depressions differently from women. In America, it is already accepted that drug and alcohol abuse by men represents clinical evidence of depression. Men – tellingly – are twice as likely as women to suffer from alcoholism. I contend that the national depression statistics for men would be very much altered if we factored in the consequences of excessive stress, drinking and drug abuse plus male workaholism and road rage. It helps to recall that some depression is agitated and noisy instead of silent and glum. Not convinced? Why, then, are men half as likely as women to be diagnosed with depression, but three times more likely than women to kill themselves because of it?

Phillip Hodson is from the UK Council for Psychotherapy (psychotherapy.org.uk)

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
People walk through Autumn leaves in St James's Park yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

    £70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

    Teaching Assistant

    £50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits