Welcome to Wing of Madness Depression Guide

Image: Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Welcome to one of the oldest depression sites on the Web. Since 1995, Wing of Madness has been providing information and support to people dealing with their own depression or that of someone they know.

This web page is about clinical depression, also referred to as major depression or major depressive disorder. Here we address not the “down” mood which we all get from time to time and which leads us to say, “I’m depressed,” but the often debilitating illness which affects one in five people, children as well as adults. Continue reading

Men and Depression

burne_jones_prince_entering_the_briar_wood_detail_smSoon after I created my website Wing of Madness in 1995, I wrote an article about women and depression. At that time it was believed that women suffer from depression about twice as often as men do, although no one was sure why. Some hypotheses posed biological reasons, such as greater incidence of sexual assault and abuse and role in society.

I was never completely comfortable with the idea that more women than men were depressed. It didn’t seem to make sense to me. For one thing, most of the famous people with depression who came to mind (for me, at least) were men. Winston Churchill, Mike Wallace, Abraham Lincoln, Robin Williams and Terry Bradshaw, to name a few. Not that famous women didn’t come to mind, but I couldn’t come up with a much larger number of more women than men.

The other thing that bothered me, as it always does, is that there was no clear reason why women would experience depression so much more than men. I admit that I like to have reasons for things; I don’t want there to be unknowns when it comes to something like depression. And all the explanations for the disparity were vague at best. Hormones, sure. Societal issues, maybe. But nothing that accounted for this purportedly large difference in the numbers between men and women.

And then there was the question of reporting. Some medical professionals suspected that the reason for the large gap was not that fewer men were depressed, but that they had more trouble talking to their doctors about mental or emotional problems. Women tend to be more comfortable asking a doctor about a medical concern, let alone admitting to mental health issues. But since there were no studies to support this hypothesis, the idea didn’t gain much of a foothold until recently.

In the last few years, attitudes have begun to change about the prevalance of depression in men with the advent of some new ideas. The mental health community is beginning to use these to challenge the long-standing beliefs about men and depression.

The most important new idea, in my mind, is that depression actually manifests itself differently in men than in women. While women tend to exhibit the classic symptoms of sadness and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, men tend to more frequently exhibit less classic symptoms like anger, irritability and abuse of alcohol.

Because men’s depressive symptoms don’t fit the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV, the bible for mental health professionals, it’s very possible that many men who should be diagnosed with depression are not.

Along with the failure of the medical community to recognize the depression symptoms that are largely unique to men, there are some other barriers to diagnosis of depression in men:

  • Cultural expectations can compel men to mask their depression. Expressing emotions is seen as a feminine trait in the American culture.
  • Men use different language to express their depression. Men are much more likely to say that they’re “stressed” or “burnt out” than they’re “depressed.” A man I know would insist after a weekend of binge drinking that he was just “in a funk.”
  • Instead of seeking treatment, men are more likely than women to cope with their depression with alcohol and drug abuse, risk-taking behavior or workaholism. Since medical professionals and the public at large don’t tend to associate the last two behaviors with depression, this is probably a factor in why depression in men is less frequently diagnosed.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention men are less likely than women to seek help for any medical problem.

It seems entirely plausible that instead of men suffering from depression much less frequently than women, they are in fact underdiagnosed.

And they need to be diagnosed. We’re now beginning to realize that the myth that men don’t suffer from depression as often as women is not only far off the mark, but it’s an extremely dangerous one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) men are four times more likely than women to die from suicide; it’s the eighth leading cause of death for men in the U.S.

Unlike some, I don’t believe that there should be a separate category for male depression, but I think that the current criteria should be expanded to include the symptoms that men are more likely to have.

Another thing to consider is that human personalities, male and female, exist on a continuum. Who’s to say that there aren’t also some women whose depression is being missed because their symptoms aren’t classic?

Fortunately, medical professionals can use their own judgement and not rely exclusively on the DSM IV for diagnosis. Hopefully, more and more of them will do this till the depression criteria are updated to recognize that yes, men and women are different.


I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression


  • 12 Signs of Depression in Men
  • Male depression: Understanding the issues
  • Men and Depression - NIMH
  • Men and Depression - Web MD
  • Recognizing Depression in Men
  • Can exercise cure depression and anxiety? – The Washington Post

    Please note that the writer of this article should not have used the word “cure.” Exercise is a treatment for depression, not a cure. There is no cure for depression at this time. Also, your depression treatment should always be under the care of a doctor, whether medication, therapy or exercise. – Editor

    At the age of 16, Heather Troupe received a diagnosis of chronic severe depression and a prescription for an antidepressant. Eight years and 20 pounds later, she was sleeping poorly, felt a lot of anxiety and had lost her therapist because of insurance complications. Looking to “fix herself,” as Troupe, of Knoxville, Tenn., put it, she began using an elliptical machine every day at the gym, hoping to sweat away what was ailing her. Today, Troupe, 33, has been medication-free for nine years and credits her daily exercise habits with helping her achieve mental health.

    Read on: Can exercise cure depression and anxiety? – The Washington Post

    Kristen Bell opens up about having ‘no shame’ in battling anxiety, depression – TODAY.com

    She’s likable, talented and, in her own words, “very bubbly.” But there’s a lot more to Kristen Bell than that.The actress is also someone who lives with anxiety, depression and codependency — and she’s perfectly content to be known for those things, too.In a candid interview for “Off Camera,” Bell opened up about her mental health history and the importance of feeling no shame about it.

    Source: Kristen Bell opens up about having ‘no shame’ in battling anxiety, depression – TODAY.com

    Aleksandra Stone Photography – Depression Self Portrait

    After being diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, photographer Aleksandra Stone actually welcomed her depression diagnosis. Once she understood the full scope of her condition, she felt more secure in her feelings.”Almost instantaneously, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, because I could finally put a name to the problem,” she tells Refinery29. “Finally, I understood that my thoughts and moods were symptoms, and within my reach were means to alleviate them.”

    Read on: Aleksandra Stone Photography – Depression Self Portrait

    Imade Nibokun “Depressed While Black” Interview

    Our society hasn’t exactly made it easy on those with mental illnesses. But as Imade Nibokun explains in the latest video for Project UROK, people of color face unique challenges in getting help for mental health issues.

    “Depression was something that was hovering in the background that I just got use to,” Nibokun says. “[It was] almost like a pair of shoes that you wear in.” She found herself in grad school racing along the highway “wanting to die,” which made her realize that she needed to get help.

    On her blog, Depressed While Black, Nibokun writes about the particular stigmas and barriers to care for people of color with mental illnesses. “Growing up I thought depression was a ‘white person disease,'” Nibokun explains in the video, “that depression is just not something that we do as Black people… I really had to learn that I am worth the care.”

    Read on: Imade Nibokun Depressed While Black Interview