Exploring Men’s Perceptions About Male Depression

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The current study examined perceptions about depression among a sample of men from a midwestern university in the United States (N = 366). Specifically, a randomized analogue design with a series of vignettes about men with depression was used to identify: (a) what constellations of symptoms men identify as depression (i.e., conventional diagnostic criteria, gender-specific diagnostic criteria, or a combination of traditional and gender-specific diagnostic criteria) and how these constellations influence perceptions of severity and (b) men’s beliefs about the masculinity and femininity of men experiencing depression. Results of this study indicate that men identified symptoms of male-type depression as “depression” at lower rates than symptoms of major depressive disorder or a combination of male-type depression and major depressive disorder. Symptoms of male-type depression are also perceived as less severe than other symptom constellations. Furthermore, participants in the study perceived men with traditional symptoms of depression as less masculine and more feminine than men reporting no symptoms of depression, symptoms of male-type depression, or traditional symptoms coinciding with externalizing behaviors. The current study begins to fill gaps in our understanding of men’s perceptions of what symptoms constitute depression, the degree to which these symptom constellations reflect severity of depression, and perceptions of the masculinity and femininity of other men with depression.

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