Men who lack resilience are at an increased risk of being severely depressed after the death of their spouse, according to a new study.
The study found that while a widowed man with high resilience experienced no increase in depressive symptoms, those who became widowed and had low levels of resilience experienced an increase of about three additional depressive symptoms.
Although "men with high levels of resilience recover really well within a four-year period and move on... yet having low resilience appears to be particularly bad for men who on average experienced three additional depressive symptoms out of eight," said Dawn Carr, Assistant Professor at the Florida State University in the US.
Conversely, women with low resilience experienced a slight increase in depressive symptoms whether they became widowed or stayed married.
Widowed women with high resilience also experienced a slight increase in depressive symptoms.
"For widowed women, high levels of resilience did little to reduce increases in depression following spousal loss," Carr added, in the paper published in the journal The Gerontologist.
External resources, such as social networks, could be one explanation for the gender divide as women tend to have more external resources in terms of social support such as friends and family as compared to men who may become more vulnerable after losing their main social contact and source of care, the researchers explained.
For the study, the team included 2,877 married women and 2,749 married men among which 335 and 136 of whom became widowed respectively within a four-year span.