Who Gets Depressed?

Depression is not something that happens to people who are “unusual” or “crazy.” It is everywhere.  Along with anxiety (which occurs more frequently than depression), it is the common cold of emotional problems. During any given year, a large number of people will suffer from major depression:  25% of women and 12% of men will suffer a major depressive episode during their lifetime. The chances of recurrence of another episode after the initial episode are high.

The reason for the sex difference in prevalence of depression is not entirely clear. Possible reasons may be that women are more willing to acknowledge feelings of sadness and self-criticism openly, whereas men may “mask” or hide their depression behind other problems, such as alcohol and drug abuse. In addition, women are often taught from an early age to be helpless and dependent. Women may also control fewer sources of rewards than men do, and their achievements may be more often discounted.