It's easier to spot when a woman's depressed (meaning men are less likely to seek help)
- Both men and women were equally likely to classify a woman as having the condition
- But men were less able to spot it amongst themselves
Researchers found gender stereotypes influence public perceptions of depressed people.
For instance, when presented with a scenario of a man or woman in distress, men were more likely to say a woman was depressed than their male counterparts.
Dr Viren Swami, a reader in psychology at the University of Westminster, presented study participants with one of two fictitious subjects, Kate and Jack.
Both were described as having identical symptoms of major depression, the only difference being their suggested gender.
For example, a sample of the test reads: 'For the past two weeks, Kate/Jack has been feeling really down.
'S/he wakes up in the morning with a flat, heavy feeling that sticks with her/him all day. S/he isn’t enjoying things the way s/he normally would. S/he finds it hard to concentrate on anything.'
The respondents were asked to identify whether the individual described suffered a mental health disorder, and how likely they would be to recommend seeking professional help to the subject in the test.
Both men and women were equally likely to classify Kate as having a mental health disorder, but men were less likely than women to indicate that Jack suffered from depression.
Dr Swami said: 'Men were also more likely to recommend that Kate seek professional help than women were, but both men and women were equally likely to make this suggestion for Jack.
'Respondents, particularly men, rated Kate’s case as significantly more distressing, difficult to treat, and deserving of sympathy than they did Jack’s case.'
He also found that individual attitudes towards depression were associated with scepticism about psychiatry and anti-scientific attitudes.
Dr Swami added: 'The results are significant for initiatives aimed at enhancing mental health literacy, which should consider the impact of gender stereotypes and attitudes towards help-seeking behaviours.'
I've posted this comment from the newspaper as it is so true.