Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Does male happiness all come down to the job we do?

Psychiatrists are saying that male depression will get worse during the course of the 21st century.

Currently, women are twice as likely to get diagnosed with depression as men but men's health campaigners have always contended that this not because men are twice as happy as women but because unhappy men are far less likely to go to the doctors for treatment. They're more likely to self-medicate with booze or drugs. The fact that men are three times more likely to take the final step down the path of mental misery and kill themselves is surely evidence enough of male unhappiness. (In 2009 there were 4,304 male suicides - 17.5 per 100,000 of population - and 1,371 female suicides - 5.2 per 100,000).

The American shrinks identify two main causes of this increase in depression - the decline in male jobs and the fact that society encourages men to talk about their feelings more or, as they put it, to 'stop being so tough and stoic'.

Now, the latter may be a reason why men are more likely to be diagnosed with depression since they're more likely to feel able to talk to someone about it but it is surely not a reason for depression in the first place.

This leaves just one cause: the changing job market. Does it all boil down to work? Men are in big trouble if it is. We need to find a different way of living in the 21st century or 50% of the population are going to be very unhappy with, if the experience of the previous 20 centuries is anything to go by, thoroughly unpleasant side-effects for the other 50%.

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