Is depression different between women and men? Does it influence on its treatment?

Mariane Lopez Molina, professor in the course of Psicologia na Faculdade Anhanguera do Rio Grande, Pelotas, RS, Brazil

Researchers of the University Catholic of Pelotas published a study intitled “Sintomas depressivos e relação entre os gêneros: diferenças em adultos jovens de um ensaio clínico randomizado” in Paidéia journal, volume 27, number 67 of 2017. New findings are presented after brief cognitive intervention for improvement of depressive symptoms in young adults with depression. This research was part of a bigger project developed by Health and Behavior Post Graduation Program between 2008 and 2012.

Currently it is know that a depression hits a great part of general population, especially women. However, there is no consensus in scientific literature about differences on the manifestations of depressive symptoms in women and men as well as regarding to psychotherapeutic indications according gender.  In this direction, the study proposes to verify differences in depressive symptomatology and symptoms improvement in women and men with Major Depressive Disorder and to identify the differences between two cognitive psychotherapeutic models.

The present research opens precedent to professional reflection about the methods of treatment to be adopted according to patient’s sex. The hypothesis of different improvement was highlighted for the first time at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – a guide of mental disorders for mental health professionals – just in 2013. However, the manual does not presents a concrete signs – just an indicative that this issue must be better studied from now on.  The authors of this research indicates some ways. The profile based on the symptoms comparative between women and men with depression revels that both sex presented difficulties in work and routine activities. Two symptoms calls special attention. Women presented double of libido lost and men indicates external factors as the cause of their depression 12 times more than women do. That is, women reported more often sexual problems and men are mistaken for their own symptoms, saying that the problem is not with them, and it is all bosses fault or the horrible weather forecast or even the overwork.

Besides symptoms verification, two kinds of psychotherapy were tested. One called cognitive narrative therapy in which patients choose four life episodes that they believe are emblematic of their depressive state. Patients are stimulated to talk about it with the therapist top explore again these episodes and find new meanings in this events. The second kind of therapy were the cognitive behavior therapy that the therapist helps the patient to identify dysfunctional thoughts and teaches to adapt it to their environment. In this kind of therapy, it is used a thoughts diary to the patient realize their way of functionality and be better able to change their attitudes. The study results indicates that men improved as much as women in cognitive behavior therapy treatment but not this much through cognitive narrative therapy.

Therefore, it is possible to observe that depressive symptoms and its improvement behavior differently between genders. These results possibly indicate the influence of biological and, mainly, cultural aspects in the expression of depressive symptoms and in their treatment.

The research counted with funding support from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS).


AMERICAN PSYCHIATRY ASSOCIATION. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – DSM-5. 5th.ed. Washington: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

To read the article, access

MOLINA, M. R. A. L. et al. Depressive Symptoms and Relationship Between Genders: Differences in Young Adults in a Randomized Clinical Trial. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto) [online]. 2017, vol.27, n.67, pp.3-9. [viewed 8 December 2017]. ISSN 0103-863X. DOI: 10.1590/1982-43272767201701. Available from:


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

MOLINA, M. L. Is depression different between women and men? Does it influence on its treatment? [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2017 [viewed ]. Available from:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation