Woman are much more susceptible to depression than men.
At age 15, girls are twice as likely as boys to be experiencing depression.
This could be down to hormonal fluctuations, body image issues, genetic factors or other causes.
Men, though, are more likely to suffer persistent depression.
And for women, depression tends to go in cycles.
Brain scans of adolescents in a new study have found different responses at this young age.
For the research, 106 adolescents with depression had their brains scanned while they looked at happy, sad or neutral words.
The results showed the brains of boys and girls responded in different ways, particularly in the supramarginal gyrus and posterior cingulate.
Both areas have previously been linked to depression.
Dr Jie-Yu Chuang, the study’s first author, said:
“Our finding suggests that early in adolescence, depression might affect the brain differently between boys and girls.
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.”
These early signs in adolescence could be the first indications of the different ways the sexes experience depression.
Dr Chuang said:
“Men are more liable to suffer from persistent depression, whereas in women depression tends to be more episodic.
Compared with women, depressed men are also more likely to suffer serious consequences from their depression, such as substance abuse and suicide.”
Dr Chuang hopes to conduct a larger study in the future:
“I think it would be great to conduct a large longitudinal study addressing sex differences in depression from adolescence to adulthood.”
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The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry (Chuang et al., 2017).