Depression Has Different Effects on Male And Female Brains, Study Shows
One study has found out that depression has different effects on the brain activities in male and female subjects in certain regions of the brain. Depressed adolescents who were exposed to happy or unhappy words had their brains imaged. The findings show that adolescent males and females may experience depression in different ways and that sex-targeted therapies may be beneficial for young people.
When researchers within the UK exposed depressed young people to happy or sad words and imaged their brains, they observed that depression has specific results on the brain activity of male and female sufferers in certain brain areas. The findings show that adolescent males and females might experience depression in a different way and that sex-specific treatments could be beneficial for adolescents.
Males and females appear to experience depression differently, and that is in particular also applicable to adolescents. At 15 years of age, girls are twice as prone to have depression as boys. There are quite a lot of possible explanations for this, along with body image problems, hormonal fluctuations and genetic reasons, where girls are at higher risk of inheriting depression. Nevertheless, variations between the sexes don’t just have the risk of experiencing depression, but in addition how the problem manifests and its consequences.
Depression in males and females – study results
According to Jie-Yu Chuang, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and an author on the study, which was recently published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, “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.”
Despite this, up to now, most researchers have focused about depression in females, because it’s more common.
This has prompted Chuang and her colleagues to do this new study to seek out variations between depressed men and women. They recruited adolescent volunteers for the study, who were aged between 11 and 18 years. This integrated 82 female and 24 male sufferers who suffered from depression, and 24 female and 10 male healthy volunteers. The researchers imaged the teens’ brains utilizing magnetic resonance imaging, at the same time, flashing happy, sad or neutral words on a screen in a detailed order.
The volunteers pressed a button when specific types of words appeared and didn’t press the button when others appeared, and the researchers measured their brain activity for the period of the test. When the researchers flashed some combinations of words on the screen, they noticed that depression impacts brain activity in a different way between boys and girls in areas of the brain like the supramarginal gyrus and posterior cingulate.
According to Chuang, “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.”
The brain regions highlighted within the study were earlier linked to depression, however additional work is required to understand why they are affected in a different way in depressed boys, and if that is related to how boys experience and handle depression.
Due to the fact that depression is more common in females, the researchers were not ready to recruit as many boys in this study, and future experiments should evaluate identical numbers of women and men for better outcome. Chuang and her colleagues would like to discover this phenomenon further.
She added, “I think it would be great to conduct a large longitudinal study addressing sex differences in depression from adolescence to adulthood.”