BACKGROUND: Reducing the complexity of major depressive disorder by symptom-based subtypes constitutes the basis of more specific treatments. To date, few studies have empirically derived symptom subtypes separated by sex, although the impact of sex has been widely accepted in depression research. METHODS: The community-based sample included 373 males and 443 females from the Zurich Program for Sustainable Development of Mental Health Services (ZInEP) manifesting depressive symptoms in the past 12 months. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was performed separately by sex to extract sex-related depression subtypes. The subtypes were characterized by psychosocial characteristics. RESULTS: Three similar subtypes were found in both sexes: a severe typical subtype (males: 22.8%; females: 35.7%), a severe atypical subtype (males: 17.4%; females: 22.6%), and a moderate subtype (males: 25.2%; females: 41.8%). In males, two additional subgroups were identified: a severe irritable/angry-rejection sensitive (IARS) subtype (30%) comprising the largest group, and a small psychomotor retarded subtype (4%). Males belonging to the severe typical subtype exhibited the lowest masculine gender role orientation, while females of the typical subtype showed more anxiety disorders. The severe atypical subtype was associated with eating disorders in both sexes and with alcohol/drug abuse/dependence in females. In contrast, alcohol/drug abuse/dependence was associated with the severe IARS subtype in males. LIMITATIONS: The study had a cross-sectional design, allowing for no causal inferences. CONCLUSIONS: This study contributes to a better understanding of sex-related depression subtypes, which can be well distinguished on the basis of symptom profiles. This provides the base for future research investigating the etiopathogenesis and effective treatment of the heterogeneous depression disorder.