Out-of-work men face depressing future

EMORY (US) — As rates of unemployment rise in the 21st century, depression among men is expected to follow suit.

Since the beginning of the recession in 2007, roughly 75 percent of the jobs lost in the United States were held by men. On the other hand, women are increasingly becoming the primary household earners with 22 percent of wives earning more than their husbands.

“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,” writes Boadie Dunlop, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.

The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Biological and sociological differences in men and women may make it harder for men to fit into the role of primary care provider to young children than most women, Dunlop says.

“Men in the changing economy will face the same risks for depression that women faced in older economies: trapped in a family role from which they cannot escape because of an inability to find employment.”

The societal expectancy of men to be tough, stoic, and hide their feelings is being significantly eroded. The growing awareness about mental health through education, and hearing prominent male figures talk about their depression, has had a significant impact in opening up the public space for men to validate symptoms of depression.

“The changing socioeconomic positions of the West could lead to prevalence in the rates of depression in men increasing, while rates in women decrease,” says 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.”

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