Skip to main content
placeholder image

Differences in the expression of symptoms in men versus women with depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Objective: While some studies suggest that men and women report different symptoms associated with depression, no published systematic review or meta-analysis has analyzed the relevant research literature. This article aims to review the evidence of gender differences in symptoms associated with depression. Methods: PubMed, Cochrane, and PsycINFO databases, along with further identified references lists, were searched. Thirty-two studies met the inclusion criteria. They included 108,260 participants from clinical and community samples with a primary presentation of unipolar depression. All 32 studies were rated for quality and were tested for publication bias. Meta-analyses were conducted on the 26 symptoms identified across the 32 studies to assess for the effect of gender. Results: The studies indicate a small, significant association of gender with some symptoms. Depressed men reported alcohol/drug misuse (Hedges¿s g = 0.26 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.11¿0.42]) and risk taking/poor impulse control (g = 0.58 [95% CI, 0.47¿0.69]) at a greater frequency and intensity than depressed women. Depressed women reported symptoms at a higher frequency and intensity that are included as diagnostic criteria for depression such as depressed mood (g = ¿0.20 [95% CI, ¿0.33 to ¿0.08]), appetite disturbance/weight change (g = ¿0.20 [95% CI, ¿0.28 to ¿0.11]), and sleep disturbance (g = ¿0.11 [95% CI, ¿0.19 to ¿0.03]). Conclusions: Results are consistent with existing research on gender differences in the prevalence of substance use and mood disorders, and of their co-occurrence. They highlight the potential utility of screening for substance misuse, risk taking, and poor impulse control when assessing depression in men. Future research is warranted to clarify gender-specific presentations of depression and co-occurring symptoms.

Publication Date


  • 2017

Citation


  • Cavanagh, A., Wilson, C. J., Kavanagh, D. J. & Caputi, P. (2017). Differences in the expression of symptoms in men versus women with depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 25 (1), 29-38.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85010695861

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/ihmri/1006

Number Of Pages


  • 9

Start Page


  • 29

End Page


  • 38

Volume


  • 25

Issue


  • 1

Abstract


  • Objective: While some studies suggest that men and women report different symptoms associated with depression, no published systematic review or meta-analysis has analyzed the relevant research literature. This article aims to review the evidence of gender differences in symptoms associated with depression. Methods: PubMed, Cochrane, and PsycINFO databases, along with further identified references lists, were searched. Thirty-two studies met the inclusion criteria. They included 108,260 participants from clinical and community samples with a primary presentation of unipolar depression. All 32 studies were rated for quality and were tested for publication bias. Meta-analyses were conducted on the 26 symptoms identified across the 32 studies to assess for the effect of gender. Results: The studies indicate a small, significant association of gender with some symptoms. Depressed men reported alcohol/drug misuse (Hedges¿s g = 0.26 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.11¿0.42]) and risk taking/poor impulse control (g = 0.58 [95% CI, 0.47¿0.69]) at a greater frequency and intensity than depressed women. Depressed women reported symptoms at a higher frequency and intensity that are included as diagnostic criteria for depression such as depressed mood (g = ¿0.20 [95% CI, ¿0.33 to ¿0.08]), appetite disturbance/weight change (g = ¿0.20 [95% CI, ¿0.28 to ¿0.11]), and sleep disturbance (g = ¿0.11 [95% CI, ¿0.19 to ¿0.03]). Conclusions: Results are consistent with existing research on gender differences in the prevalence of substance use and mood disorders, and of their co-occurrence. They highlight the potential utility of screening for substance misuse, risk taking, and poor impulse control when assessing depression in men. Future research is warranted to clarify gender-specific presentations of depression and co-occurring symptoms.

Publication Date


  • 2017

Citation


  • Cavanagh, A., Wilson, C. J., Kavanagh, D. J. & Caputi, P. (2017). Differences in the expression of symptoms in men versus women with depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 25 (1), 29-38.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85010695861

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/ihmri/1006

Number Of Pages


  • 9

Start Page


  • 29

End Page


  • 38

Volume


  • 25

Issue


  • 1