Show Menu

Depression is More Common in Women Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Depression is More Common in Women

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Depres­sionis often referred to by physicians as 'the common cold of psychi­atry'.

Figures for the lifetime prevalence of depression vary according to the criteria used to define depres­sion. Using DSM-IV's criteria for 'major depressive disorder' which are similar to the ICD-10 criteria for 'moderate depres­sion', the lifetime prevalence of depression is about 15 percent and the point prevalence about 5 percent. This means that an average person has about a one in seven (15 percent) chance of developing depression in the course of his or her lifetime, and about a 1 in 20 (5 percent) chance of suffering from it at this very point in time.

However, these figures mask a very uneven gender distri­bution as depression is about twice as common in women than in men. The reasons for this uneven gender distri­bution are not entirely clear, but are thought to be partly biolog­ical, partly psycho­log­ical, and partly socioc­ult­ural.

Biological explan­ations

1. Compared to men, women may have a stronger genetic predis­pos­ition to developing depres­sion.

2. Compared to men, women are much more subjected to fluctu­ating hormone levels. This is especially the case around the time of childbirth and at the menopause, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing depres­sion.

Psycho­logical explan­ations

3. Women are more ruminative than men, that is, they tend to think about things more—w­hich, though a very good thing, may also predispose them to developing depres­sion. In contrast, men are more likely to react to difficult times with stoici­cism, anger, or substance misuse.

4. Women are generally more invested in relati­onships than men. Relati­onship problems are likely to affect them more, and so they are more likely to develop depres­sion.

Depresion in Women

Socioc­ultural explan­ations

5. Women come under more stress than men. Not only do they have to go work just like men, but they may also be expected to bear the brunt of mainta­ining a home, bringing up children, caring for older relatives, and putting up with all the sexism!

6. Women live longer than men. Extreme old age is often associated with bereav­ement, loneli­ness, poor physical health, and precar­ity—and so with depres­sion.

7. Women are more likely to seek out a diagnosis of depres­sion. They are more likely to consult a physician and more likely to discuss their feelings with the physician. Conver­sely, physicians (whether male or female) may be more likely to make a diagnosis of depression in a woman.