Myth Women experience more depression

Fad. Women do not experience more depression, they геюп more depression. New studies hnd that clinicians fail to recognize depres­sion in two thirds of men versus half of women. Women are also more likely than men to be diagnosed as suffering from depression even when it was later discovered they were not.30 It is only when we actively solicit men and women that we discover that equal numbers of men and women experience depression31

Myth Female depression is the equivalent of male suicide.

Perspective. Female depression is not the equivalent of male sui­cide. Reporting depression empowers women, suicide does not empower men. Reporting depression allows the woman to get help; suicide leaves everyone helpless Reporting depression is part of the solution. Suicide is the only symptom without a chance of solution.

Women report depression more because they seek out doctors more, have more of their problems identified (e g., anorexia, bulimia, burnout, depres­sion, spouse abuse), and have a support system making it safer to report depression. The expression of depression is better than the repression of depression. The expression of depression is the single best hope for preventing the common cold of depression from becoming the pneumonia of suicide. It is, therefore, pan of the solution.

What makes it safe for women to repon depression? Woman friends listen, women’s centers listen, and women’s shelters both listen and protect. For example, women’s crisis lines are there to listen to the 12 percent of American wives who suffer spousal abuse, or to stories of a daughter being sexually abused by Dad (But who listens to the 12 percent of American husbands who suffer spousal abuse,32 or to stories of a son being sexually abused by Mom?)

Her problems are given names by women’s books and feminist psycho­logists, and then popularized in every women’s magazine. There are doctors for women’s problems, but it Is hard to name the male equivalent of a gynecologist. In all these ways, when it comes to expressing problems, when women speak, everyone listeas.

Itn’t depression more a woman’s Issue because It Is associated with women’s dependency on men?

The reporting of depression is often associated with the dependency of women on men53 But it is dependency on men successful enough to allow a woman the time to think about more than survival Which is why, when we think about women who report depression, we think of middle-class women, not working-class women. The working-class woman is too wor­ried about survival to report depression. Depression is a diagnosis that tends to increase among those with the luxury of worrying about something other than survival. The more a person is in Stage II, the more that person can afford to focus on depression.

In contrast, the more successful the man is in the workplace, the more his depression must be repressed, not expressed. And what gets repressed in one place comes up in another – via alcoholism or suicide.

The solution? The woman who shares economic responsibilities feels more focused and challenged, less unfocused and depressed; her work­place gives her sources of approval besides her husband. She develops, in brief, the skills to control her own life: a major antidepressant.