Skewed criteria used by GPs to diagnose depression is causing large numbers of men to miss out on treatment for the illness, the head of mental health charity Mind has said.
Men are just as likely to suffer from mental distress as women of the same age but are more likely to commit suicide, Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said.
Men aged between 40 and 49 are the highest suicide risk group in the UK, but because the categories used to understand how depression works focus on typically female symptoms and issues, the extent of the problem among males is obscured.
Depressed women are known to sometimes turn in on themselves, while male sufferers of the illness may become aggressive, angry and animated. Middle-aged men are less likely to discuss their feelings with friends and relatives and instead rely heavily on their partner, but this can push them towards further isolation and marital breakdown.
Mr Farmer said: "We are working on recommendations for GPs encouraging them to look out for some of the more male symptoms of depression, such as anger or aggression and also calling for the increased provision of mental health services tailored for men, such as all-male service user groups, which are tremendously successful where they exist."
Surgeries should be made more man-friendly and men should be given access to all-male support groups, the recommendations said.