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March 1, 2011

In the world of psychology, it is an established fact that depression affects women more frequently than men, but the recession might be changing that, says a psychiatrist at Emory University.

When Dr. Boadie Dunlop started recruiting for a study on depression, he advertised it on a sports radio show, and surprisingly got a large response from men.

"We were really impressed with the number of men coming in with depression related to employment or marital conflict," said Dunlop to TIME.

As downsizing and unemployment during this most recent recession spiked in sectors which were traditionally dominated by men, the historical trend in depression is changing.

Nearly 75 percent of the jobs lost formerly belonged to men. Because men have culturally assumed the family role of provider, unemployment hits these men hard which can result in lowered self-esteem which raises their risk for depression.

Historically, women's risk of developing depression over their lifetime was twice as high as their male counterparts, reports the source.

"Biologically, differences between genders in hormone metabolism account for some of the susceptibility to depression," writes TIME, "culturally, the higher rates of childhood abuse among girls is also a factor in enhancing rates of depression among women."

Now, since many women are becoming the breadwinners and many men take on the child-rearing responsibilities, this switch may leave men feeling overwhelmed and ripe for depression.

"Men are going to be taking on these roles, some by choice and some will have it forced on them," says Dunlop. "How well will they be able to adapt, and how well we are able to help them if they have troubles with those roles?"

Even in our modern times, it can still be difficult for men to acknowledge feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

"To be depressed, to feel overwhelmed and not motivated to do things, are signs that have had the stigma attached to them of mental weakness," says Dunlop. "And men traditionally have felt that they should just overcome them and snap out of it."

Acknowledging that men are facing many cultural changes that will change their self-image and self-esteem is the first step that could help more health-care providers address the emerging issue, Dunlop says.

"If men are taking on different roles, they may need help in learning how to do it," he says.
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