Men's Views on Depression: A Systematic Review and Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research

Psychopathology. 2017;50(2):107-124. doi: 10.1159/000455256. Epub 2017 Mar 11.


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.

Keywords: Masculinities; Men’s depression; Metasynthesis; Qualitative research; Subjective views; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Men's Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sexual Partners / psychology