depressed man
Researchers speculated that male stroke survivors may be more susceptible to feelings of loss of control due to infirmity. Flickr via Creative Commons

People that are lucky enough to survive strokes often have another hurdle to clear once they're discharged: depression, which affects about a third of stroke survivors.

Now a small study of 36 stroke survivors suggests that men are more likely to be stalked by the black dog than women. Researchers measured the participants for signs of depression, and found that male subjects were more likely to feel depressed by their precarious health than the female participants.

"Male stroke survivors in the US who subscribe to traditional health-related beliefs may be accustomed to, and value highly, being in control of their health," lead author and University of Cincinnati researcher Michael J. McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday. "For these individuals, loss of control due to infirmity caused by stroke could be perceived as a loss of power and prestige. These losses, in turn, may result in more distress and greater depressive syndromes."

Tackling the problem of male stroke survivor depression is a tricky one. One study from a group of Kent State University researchers found that Web-based intervention methods were helpful for the wives and caregivers of male stroke victims, but had little effect on the survivors themselves.

McCarthy acknowledged that his group's study is a bit limited by its small, non-diverse sample size.

"Future research, with more socioeconomically diverse samples, should examine how gender-based health-related beliefs affect survivor outcomes, and explore the factors that protect female stroke survivors from the harmful effects of health ambiguity," he said.

SOURCE; McCarthy et al. "Gender, Health Ambiguity, and Depression among Survivors of First Stroke: A Pilot Study." Arch Phys Med Rehab in press.