Depressed men `turn to drink'

Silent suffering: Concern over ignored illness
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The Independent Online
Thousands of depressed men are unable to articulate their despair or seek medical help for their plight and turn instead to drink and drugs, according to a report today from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Under-diagnosis of clinical depression in men may be as high as 65 per cent, the report says, and suicide is three times more likely in men than women.

Widowed, divorced and separated men are most vulnerable but the suicide rate is rising in married men too. In the 16 to 24 age group - mainly single males - there has been a 75 per cent rise in suicides since 1982.

The college blames the fact that men visit their doctors less often and are more likely to talk about the physical symptoms of depression rather than the emotional and psychological ones.

The college's Factsheet on Depression in Men is published to coincide with an action day for depressed men as part of its on-going Defeat Depression campaign. It says: "There has been a lack of recognition by doctors and specialists that [men's] needs and worries may be different from those of women."

Rodney Elgie, director of the Depression Alliance, which is backing the campaign, said: "It is stated that twice as many women suffer from depression than men . . . perhaps one should say that twice as many women seek professional help for depression than men."

The Men's Studies Research Group at the Queen Mary and Westfield College, London University, has found that society's expectations of what it means to be male hinders admissions of weakness. And those who show distress trigger hostility from their female partners which adds to the problem. Coping mechanisms include reliance on alcohol or drugs.

A breakdown in a relationship is frequently the cause of male depression, and with divorce and separation most often initiated by women, men may take it as a "personal failure," the college said. "As well as losing their main relationship, they may often lose touch with their children," the report says.

About 5 per cent of the population suffer from severe depression, and further 5 per cent experience a milder form.

Let's help men, page 17

The vulnerable male

Under-diagnosis of depression in men may be as high as 65%.

Suicide is three times more likely than in women.

There has been a 75% increase since 1982 in suicides among men aged 16-24.

Male employment is down 6.5% since 1975.

Some 71% of British managers believe their relationships with their children are harmed by their working lives.

Fathers do four times as much paid overtime as childless men.

More than 50% of men think working hours harm their relationships with their children only a quarter are prepared to do something about it.