Job loss in the United States is expected to boost depression rates in men, suggests psychiatrist and author Boadie Dunlop, MD. As the 21st century progresses, Dunlop says so will marital conflict and depressive disorders in men.
A socioeconomic shift from men being the primary household earners from job loss and inability to easily fit into new roles are the reasons cited. Men will face the same risk of depression that women, trapped in family roles without gainful employment, faced in the past.
In an editorial published in the March 2011 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, Dunlop says, "Compared to women, many men attach a great importance to their roles as providers and protectors of their families. Failure to fulfill the role of breadwinner is associated with greater depression and marital conflict."
He points out that since 2007, the beginning of the recession, approximately 75 percent of jobs lost in the United States were held by men. In 2007, 22 percent of wives were earning more than their spouses.
Dunlop says inherent biological as well as sociological differences between men and women will make it harder for men to fit into the domestic role of caring for children and the household, previously held by women.
"The changing socioeconomic positions of the West could lead to prevalence in the rates of depression in men increasing, while rates in women decrease," warns Dunlop. "Practitioners need to be aware of these forces of life, and be prepared to explore with their patients the meaning of these changes and interventions that might be helpful."
Women traditionally experience higher rates of depression than do men. Dunlop, who is the Director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at Emory University says there is no reason to expect economic recovery and a return to traditional numbers of male jobs.
On the plus side, men are no longer expected to remain stoic and silent, opening the doors for discussing their feelings. Rates of depression are expected to rise among men from the current socioeconomic climate, recession and shifting male roles that will pose challenges for self-esteem.