Is excess mortality higher in depressed men than in depressed women? A meta-analytic comparison

J Affect Disord. 2014 Jun;161:47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Mar 15.


Background: It is not well-established whether excess mortality associated with depression is higher in men than in women.

Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis of prospective studies in which depression was measured at baseline, where mortality rates were reported at follow-up, and in which separate mortality rates for men and women were reported. We conducted systematic searches in bibliographical databases and calculated relative risks of excess mortality in men and women.

Results: Thirteen studies were included. Among the people with depression, excess mortality in men was higher than in women (RR=1.97; 1.63-2.37). Compared with non-depressed participants, excess mortality was increased in depressed women (RR=1.55; 95% CI: 1.32-1.82), but not as much as in men (RR=2.04; 95% CI: 1.76-2.37), and the difference between excess mortality in men was significantly higher than in women (p<0.05).

Conclusions: Excess mortality related to depression is higher in men than in women. Although the exact mechanisms for this difference are not clear, it may point at differential or more intensified pathways leading from depression to increased mortality in depressed men compared to women.

Keywords: Depression; Gender difference; Meta-analysis; Mortality; Prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / mortality*
  • Depressive Disorder / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors