Masculinity ideals as healthy resources for men coping with depression

Masculinity ideals as healthy resources for men coping with depression

The following is quoted from the paper ‘Men’s Views on Depression: A Systematic
Review and Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research’, by Silvia Krumm Carmen Checchia Markus Koesters Reinhold Kilian Thomas Becker, Department of Psychiatry II, Ulm University at Bezirkskrankenhaus Guenzburg, Guenzburg , Germany. The reference is: Krumm, S., Checchia, C., Koesters, M., Kilian, R., & Becker, T. (2017). Men’s views on depression: a systematic review and metasynthesis of qualitative research. Psychopathology, 50(2), 107-124. Available online

Background: According to the concept of “male depression,” depression among men might be underdiagnosed and undertreated because of gender differences in symptoms and coping. There is evidence that men experience atypical depressive symptoms including irritability, aggression, substance abuse, and increased risk behavior. To date, a substantial number of qualitative studies on men’s views on depression has been conducted in the last few decades.
Methods: Based on a systematic review and metasynthesis of qualitative studies on men’s subjective perspectives on depression, we aim at a comprehensive understanding of men’s subjective views on depression with a specific focus on masculinity constructions.
Results: Based on 34 studies assessed as appropriate for the study, 2 overarching subthemes
could be identified: normative expectations regarding masculinity ideals and men’s subjective perspectives of depression as “weakness.” Men’s strategies include denial of “weakness” and “closing up.” Further themes include suicide, masculinity ideals as a healthy resource, and alternative masculinities.
Discussion/Conclusions: Traditional masculinity values might serve as barriers but also as facilitators to adaptive coping strategies in depressed men. More research is needed to study the dimensions and role of alternative masculinities in the context of depression” (Krumm et al 2017, p.107).

Masculinity Ideals as Healthy Resource
Some men seem to benefit from alignments with traditional masculinity ideals when coping with depression. Regaining control via information as well as relying on one’s own resources were assessed as helpful strategies in line with elements of masculine ideals such as control, strengths, and self-management [43] . Other men were found to overcome their problems by relying on typical masculine activities, e.g. “chopping firewood at one’s summer cottage, playing in a rock band, and motor biking” [38] . In contrast to seeing depression as loss of power, some men described it as a heroic struggle from which they emerged a stronger person and some men even assessed their depression in terms of heightened masculinity because of positive changes in their sexual functions [31] . This is in line with findings on men’s appraisals of “being one of the boys” and re-establishing control via independence from medication as signs of recovery [31] . In contrast to social discourses that restrain men from seeking help, some men assessed their treatment-seeking as active, rational, responsible, and independent action [25, 47, 50]” (Krumm et al 2017, p.120).

21. Oliffe JL, Robertson S, Kelly MT, Roy P, Ogrodniczuk JS: Connecting masculinity and depression among international male university students. Qual Health Res 2010; 20: 987–998.

25. Sierra Hernandez C: Understanding helpseeking among depressed men. Psychol Men Masc 2014; 13: 346–354.

38. Valkonen J, Hanninen V: Narratives of masculinities and depression. Men Masc 2012; 16: 160.

43. Skarsater I, Dencker K, Haggstrom L, FridlundB: A salutogenetic perspective on how
men cope with major depression in daily life, with the help of professional and lay support.
Int J Nurs Stud 2003; 40: 153–162.

47. O’Brien R, Hunt K, Hart G: “It’s caveman stuff, but that is to a certain extent how guys
still operate”: men’s accounts of masculinity and help seeking. Soc Sci Med 2005; 61: 503–516.

50. Johnson JL, Oliffe JL, Kelly MT, Galdas P, Ogrodniczuk JS: Men’s discourses of helpseeking in the context of depression. Sociol Health Illness 2012; 34: 345–361.

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