Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Men's accounts of depression: reconstructing or resisting hegemonic masculinity?

By C Emslie, Damien T. Ridge, S Ziebland and K Hunt


There is evidence that depressive symptoms in men are often undiagnosed and untreated. It has been suggested that men may find it difficult to seek help because culturally dominant (or hegemonic) forms of masculinity are characterised by emotional control and a lack of vulnerability, while depression is often associated with powerlessness and the uncontrolled expression of emotion. However, very little research exists which examines men's experiences of depression. We analysed 16 indepth interviews with a wide range of men with depression. Our analysis explored associations between depression and men's gender identities. We found that, as part of recovery from depression, it was important for men to reconstruct a valued sense of themselves and their own masculinity. The most common strategy was to incorporate values associated with hegemonic masculinity into narratives (being 'one of the boys', re-establishing control, and responsibility to others). While this strategy could aid recovery, there was also evidence that the pressures of conforming to the standards of hegemonic masculinity could contribute to suicidal behaviour. In contrast, a minority of men had found ways of being masculine which were outside hegemonic discourses. They emphasised their creativity, sensitivity and intelligence, explicitly reflected on different models of masculinity and redefined their 'difference' as a positive feature. Our research demonstrates that it is possible to locate men who can, and will, talk about depression and their feelings; thus generalisations about depressed men always being silent are misleading. While some men will have the resources to construct identities that resist culturally dominant definitions of masculinity, many others will find it more useful (and perhaps less threatening) to re-interpret potentially feminising experiences as 'masculine'. Health professionals need to be aware of the issues raised by men's narratives which emphasise control, strength and responsibility to others

Topics: UOWSAT
OAI identifier:
Provided by: WestminsterResearch

Suggested articles


  1. (Dis)embodying gender and sexuality in testicular cancer.
  2. (1996). (Re)defining my self: women's process of recovery from depression.
  3. (2000). Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men's well-being: a theory of gender and health.
  4. (2005). Constructions of masculinity following prostatectomy-induced impotence.
  5. (2005). Depression in men: communication, diagnosis and therapy.
  6. (2004). DIPEx: Collecting personal experiences to help other patients and educate professionals.
  7. (1999). Gender and mental health. Basingstoke and London:
  8. (2004). I am not the kind of woman who complains of everything': illness stories on self and shame in women with chronic pain.
  9. (1995). Identity dilemmas of chronically ill men. In
  10. (2003). If I let a goal in, I'll get beat up”: contradictions in masculinity, sport and health.
  11. (2001). Invisible women? The importance of gender in lay beliefs about heart problems.
  12. (2005). It's caveman stuff, but that is to a certain extent how guys still operate': men's accounts of masculinity and help seeking.
  13. (1998). Key health statistics from General Practice
  14. (1994). Living with depression: illness and identity turning points.
  15. (2001). Making sense of depression: perceptions of melancholia in lay narratives.
  16. (1983). Male intolerance of depression: a review with implications for psychotherapy.
  17. (2003). Masculinities and femininities as communities of practice.
  18. (1994). Masculinity as homophobia. Fear, shame and silence in the construction of gender identity.
  19. (1997). Meanings of gender and suicidal behavior during adolescence.
  20. (1996). New directions in gender theory, masculinity research, and gender politics.
  21. (1999). One of the boys. Masculinity, homophobia, and modern manhood.
  22. (2004). Practice Team Information, Scottish Health Statistics.
  23. (2002). Prostate cancer: embodied experience and perceptions of masculinity.
  24. (2001). Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households,
  25. (1997). Queer Connections: Community, the scene and an epidemic.
  26. (2004). Reworking qualitative data.
  27. (1998). Royal College of Psychiatrists
  28. (2000). Sex and suicide: Gender differences in suicidal behaviour.
  29. (1977). Sex differences and the epidemiology of depression.
  30. (1987). Sex differences in distress: The impact of gender and work roles.
  31. (1996). Speaking of sadness. Depression, disconnection, and the meanings of illness. Oxford:
  32. (1999). The abyss: exploring depression through a narrative of the self.
  33. (1967). The Discovery Of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research.
  34. (2003). The gender gap in suicide and premature death or: why are men so vulnerable?
  35. (1988). The Long Interview. Newbury Park:
  36. (1998). Theories of masculinity.
  37. (1997). Trafficking in men: the anthropology of masculinity.
  38. (1993). What is hegemonic masculinity?
  39. (2005). Women, men and coronary heart disease: review of the qualitative literature.
  40. (2005). Women's and doctors' accounts of their experiences of depression in primary care: the influence of social and moral reasoning on patients' and doctors' decisions.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.