Men struggle more than women do when depressed, a new study has found.
The research, by the University of Otago, Wellington, found that men suffering from anxiety and depression were unable to function socially and in basic roles compared to women with the same disorders.
Dr Kate Scott and associate professor Sunny Collings conducted the research, and found that men with a current mood disorder were 10 times more likely to report role problems than men without one.
Women with a mood disorder are only four times more likely to report role problems than ones without such disorders.
"Our research confirms that women are more likely than men to experience mood and anxiety disorders," Scott said, "but what is new is our finding that among men and women with those disorders, it is actually men who experience greater difficulties in role, social and cognitive functioning."
The findings counter common opinion that women suffer greater disabilities when depressed. One possible explanation is that women are more willing to seek treatment than men, while having greater intimate and emotional ties to compassionate family or friends.
"What's happening here is that both men and women who suffer from depression or anxiety have problems functioning in their day-to-day roles, in social situations and with communicating, but men have more difficulty in these areas than women," Scott said.
The researchers urged better assessment of male patients' mental health by questioning role and social functioning, rather than focusing on depression and anxiety symptoms.
Men notoriously avoid going to the doctors, so attention needs to be paid to raising the profile of common mental disorders and disabilities among men.
"The evidence from this study is that a more systematic and assertive focus on men in this area is overdue for humanitarian, social and economic reasons," Scott said.
The study was based on interviews with 7435 people aged 16 and over.