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March 16, 2004

Depression, Genes And Hormones

New clues as to why women are more susceptible to depression than men appear in the National Comorbidity Study according to the New York Times.

Social bias and women's higher rates of physical and sexual abuse and poverty, experts say, clearly play a role. But scientists are also studying genes that may predispose girls and women to the disorder.

Several genes probably work in concert with the ebb and flow of reproductive hormones to change brain chemistry in ways that might set the stage for depression, especially after an emotional ordeal.

Another risk factor appears to be something that researchers call overthinking, a tendency to dwell on petty slights, to mentally replay testy encounters and to wallow in sad feelings. Studies show that this type of negative thinking is far more common in women than in men, and that it can be a harbinger of clinical depression.

Before puberty, boys and girls have roughly equal rates of depression. The incidence of depression climbs in both sexes during puberty, but the climb is steepest for girls.

Posted by linda at March 16, 2004 9:13 AM

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