Girls and boys are affected by depression differently; Sex-specific treatments can help better recovery

Difference between the genders don’t just involve the risk of developing depression, but also how the disease manifests along with the symptoms.
depression men and women
Written by: India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi 12 Jul 2017, 05:18 PM IST

Depression sees no gender, we all believed this. But a recent study begs to differ. It has revealed that depression doesn’t affect both the genders in the similar manner. It has different effects on the brain activity of male and female patients in certain brain regions. The results also suggest that adult girls and boys may experience depression in a different way and that sex-specific treatments can be helpful in treating depression. 

The researchers exposed the depressed adults to happy or sad words and imaged their brains and found that depression has different effects on the brains of male and female patients in certain brain regions. By 15 years of age, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys. There can be many possible reasons behind this, including body image issues, hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors. Girls are more prone to fall into the trap of depression. Difference between the genders don’t just involve the risk of developing depression, but also how the disease manifests along with the symptoms. 

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"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," said Jie-Yu Chuang, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and an author on the study.

This motivated Chuang and her colleagues to carry out this latest study to find differences between depressed men and women.They recruited adolescent volunteers for the study, who were aged between 11 and 18 years. This included 82 female and 24 male patients who suffered from depression, and 24 female and 10 male healthy volunteers.

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The researchers imaged the adolescents' brains using magnetic resonance imaging, while flashing happy, sad or neutral words on a screen in a specific order.The volunteers pressed a button when certain types of words appeared and did not press the button when others appeared, and the researchers measured their brain activity throughout the experiment.

When the researchers flashed certain combinations of words on the screen, they noticed that depression affects brain activity differently between boys and girls in brain regions such as the supramarginal gyrus and posterior cingulate.

"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," explained Chuang.

Chuang concluded by saying, "I think it would be great to conduct a large longitudinal study addressing sex differences in depression from adolescence to adulthood."

The brain regions highlighted in the study have been previously linked to depression, but further work is needed to understand why they are affected differently in depressed boys, and if this is related to how boys experience and handle depression.The brain regions analysed in the study has been previously linked to depression, but additional work is needed to know why they are affected differently in boys suffering from depression. This is related to how men handle and experience depression. 

(With ANI Inputs) 

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