ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside May / June 2010

Different Shades of Blue

Women get sad. Men get mad. Depression comes in many hues

To Emily Dickinson, it was “fixed melancholy.” To essayist George Santayana, it was “rage spread thin.” The turns of phrase conjure different emotions, but these two writers were describing the same disorder: depression. The variance is more than a matter of literary or philosophical differences; it also reflects the fact that one was a woman, the other a man.

Therapists have long known that men and women experience mental illness differently. Yet when clinicians designed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the guidebook they use to diagnose psychiatric maladies, they purposely made the disease descriptions gender-neutral. Today evidence is mounting that in turning a blind eye to gender, clinicians are doing their patients a disservice. In fact, as more researchers investigate sex differences in depression and other mental illnesses, the inescapable conclusion is that gender influences every aspect of these disorders—from the symptoms patients experience to their response to medication to the course of a disorder throughout a person’s life.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $9.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X