Gender differences in a cohort of major depressive patients: further evidence for the male depression syndrome hypothesis

J Affect Disord. 2014;167:85-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.05.058. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


Background: Previous studies have shown that major depressive patients may differ in several features according to gender, but the existence of a specific male depressive syndrome remains controversial.

Methods: As part of the EPIDEP National Multisite French Study of 493 consecutive DSM-IV major depressive patients evaluated in at least two semi-structured interviews 1 month apart, 125 (27.7%) were of male gender, whereas 317 (72.3%) were female, after exclusion of bipolar I patients.

Results: Compared to women, men were more often married, had more associated mixed features, with more bipolar disorder NOS, more hyperthymic temperaments, and less depressive temperaments. Women had an earlier age at onset of depression, more depressive episodes and suicide attempts. A higher family loading was shown in men for bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorder, impulse control disorders and suicide, whereas their family loading for major depressive disorder was lower. Men displayed more comorbidities with alcohol use, impulse control, and cardiovascular disorders, with lower comorbidities with eating, anxiety and endocrine/metabolic disorders. The following independent variables were associated with male gender: hyperthymic temperament (+), alcohol use disorder (+), impulse control disorders (+), and depressive temperament (-).

Limitations: The retrospective design and the lack of specific tools to assess the male depressive syndrome.

Conclusion: Study findings may lend support to the male depression syndrome concept and draw attention to the role of hyperthymic temperament, soft bipolarity as well as comorbidities as determinants of this syndrome. The latter could help recognize an entity which is probably underdiagnosed, but conveys a high risk of suicide and cardiovascular morbidity.

Keywords: Gender; Major depression; Male depressive syndrome; Men; Sex; Women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking* / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking* / psychology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Syndrome
  • Temperament*