Study: Depression affects male, female brains differently

By age 15, women are more likely to have experienced depression than men, researchers report.

By Amy Wallace

July 11 (UPI) -- A recent study by the University of Cambridge has found depression affects the brains of males and females differently, which could lead to targeted treatments.

"Men are more liable to suffer from persistent depression, whereas in women depression tends to be more episodic," Jie-Yu Chuang, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release. "Compared with women, depressed men are also more likely to suffer serious consequences from their depression, such as substance abuse and suicide."


Researchers exposed adolescents with depression to happy or sad words and then imaged their brains and found that different regions of the brain were affected in males and females.

The study, {link:published July 11 in Frontiers in Psychiatry : "" target="_blank"}, included 82 female and 24 male patients age 11 to 18 with depression. The control group consisted of 24 female and 10 male healthy participants.

Studies have found that by age 15, girls are twice as likely to experience depression compared to boys of the same age.

Body image issues, hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors are all thought to influence depression in girls and make them more susceptible to the mental disorder.


"Our finding suggests that early in adolescence, depression might affect the brain differently between boys and girls," Chuang said. "Sex-specific treatment and prevention strategies for depression should be considered early in adolescence. Hopefully, these early interventions could alter the disease trajectory before things get worse."

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