New Research Reveals Why Depression Is More Common In Women Than Men

As per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, women are twice more likely to develop depression than men. The WHO reveals that 300 million people globally have depression. The psychological condition manifests itself in the form of fatigue, sleep changes, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in things that were previously found enjoyable by the patient.

Depression can cause disability. It can also lead to suicide which is why it is more a serious condition than most take it to be. As mentioned above, this mood disorder is way more common among women than it is among men. But why is this so? A latest research dives into why depression is more prevalent in females than males.

What Did This Study Reveal?

A new study, published in the Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging journal, looks at how inflammation impacts the brain’s reaction to rewards differently in both the genders. Anhedonia is a major sign of depression and it is noted by the decreased activity of the ventral striatum in the brain which is its reward processioning center.

For the purpose of this research work, investigators scanned the brains of participants, 115 of them of which 69 were females, and found that anhedonia, which refers to the loss of interest in most things, is caused due to inflammation. However, this effect was only noticed among women and not men. This showed how women were more vulnerable to the mood disorder.

Researchers gave either placebo or endotoxin to men and women who didn’t have depression. Endotoxins are inflammation inducing drugs and participants were given a low dose of it. The participants were then given tasks with monetary rewards to complete while they were inside a functional MRI scanner. This was done two hours following the intervention when inflammation activity would have been at its peak.

Results showed that the endotoxin caused a decrease in the reward processing area of the brain. However, the effect was different in both men and women. Researchers noted that the decrease of activity in the ventral striatum was “related to increases in inflammation for female but not male participants.”

This study showed that depression that is due to inflammation is different for both the sexes. It also shows why depression is more common in women. The first author of the study, Mona Moieni, said, “Clinicians who treat female patients with inflammatory disorders may want to pay close attention to these patients for possible onset of depressive symptoms.”

Key Takeaway

Depression is 1.7x more present in females than males. A new brain study digs into the why of this and explains that the mood disorder is more likely to effect women due to how inflammatory changes that effect the ventral striatum are observed only in women. With this revealed, doctors can focus more on how women may develop depressive symptoms due to inflammatory conditions.