Men who lose social status much more likely to suffer depression than women

September 14, 2005

MEN who slide down the social ladder during their lifetime take the blow much harder than women in the same position, a new study shows.

Women were twice as likely to be downwardly mobile but generally avoided the depression and poor psychological wellbeing that researchers found in men in the same position.

Men who experienced a downward social shift were four times more likely to experience depression than men who improved their social status, whereas there was no marked difference in mental health between women who had moved up or down the social ladder.

In the study, researchers from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne used the occupation of the head of the household as the marker for social status, and surveyed men and women born in 1947 in Newcastle from childhood to age 50.

Their findings could be explained by the fact that men born in this era gained much of their self-esteem from their careers, whereas women found fulfilment from other social pursuits outside work, such as children and friendships. It's also possible that women are more emotionally resilient in this type of situation, say the researchers.

The study is published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Lead researcher, Dr Paul Tiffin, who also works as an NHS psychiatrist, said: "The Newcastle Thousand Families Study gave us an opportunity to try and understand more about how socioeconomic circumstances throughout life might be linked to mental well-being in middle age. With an increasing emphasis on the promotion of good health, findings such as these are likely to challenge those involved in health and social policy."

The study used data from 224 men and 283 women in the Thousand Families Study, a Newcastle University project which has examined the health and social circumstances of children born in Newcastle upon Tyne in May and June 1947 throughout their lives.

Information on participants' mental health was gained from a 28-part questionnaire which probed stress and anxiety levels, general mood, and tendency to suicidal thoughts, amongst other markers.

Study co-author and Director of the Thousand Families Study, Dr Mark Pearce, of Newcastle University's School of Clinical Medical Sciences, said:

"It's possible that this reaction is typical of this post-war generation, where the man expected to be the main breadwinner of the household and took a significant knock to his self-esteem when he was not able to achieve this. Women, on the other hand, perhaps viewed having a successful family life as more important than their careers.

"Having robust mental health is just as important as good physical health - the two are often interdependent. Depression can lead to a vicious circle where poor mental health and lack of engagement with society becomes the norm for an individual.

Dr Tiffin added "Whilst we must be cautious in generalising our findings to other populations, our findings do suggest that it's important for governments and other agencies to consider the wider effect of mass redundancies and drastic economic changes. The tendency is to focus on the financial losses that workers and their families experience but this research shows that the psychological effects should equally be taken into account and acted upon."
-end-
The work was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Minnie Henderson Trust, the Sir John Knott Trust, and the Special Trustees of Newcastle Hospitals.

MEDIA INFORMATION

Interviews:
Dr Mark Pearce, tel: +44 (0) 191 202 3082/3048 or contact via the Press Office. Email: m.s.pearce@ncl.ac.uk. Please call after 12 noon Wednesday September 14 2005.
Dr Paul Tiffin, tel: +44 (0)1642 352114 p.a.tiffin@ncl.ac.uk

Case studies: We are unable to provide these on this occasion

INFORMATION FOR BROADCASTERS:
A radio ISDN line is usually available for use free of charge from 0900-1700 BST, Monday to Friday. Please contact Claire Jordan, Press Office to arrange access.

Source information: Social mobility over the life course and self reported mental health at age 50: prospective cohort study J Epidemiol Community Health 2005; 59: 870-2.
View paper in full: http://press.palmsprings.co.uk/jech/october/870_ch35246.pdf

END OF PRESS RELEASE:
Issued by Newcastle University Press Office. Contact Claire Jordan, tel. + 44 (0) 191 222 6067/7850 or email press.office@ncl.ac.uk. Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office

Newcastle University

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.