New Brain Study Explains Why Depression May Be Common In Women Than Men
Women have depression at a 'far greater rate than men,' and new research helps explain why.
Depression, the "leading cause of disability worldwide," is far more prevalent in women than it is in men. Worldwide, over 300 million people live with depression.
Among young people aged between 14 and 25, females are more than twice as likely to have depression as males.
Although these differences become less pronounced in later adulthood, global estimates still show a 1.7-fold increase in the prevalence of depression among women, compared with men.
Anhedonia is one of the hallmarks of major depressive disorder. Anhedonia describes the inability to derive joy or pleasure from activities that used to feel enjoyable.
On a neurological level, anhedonia presents itself as reduced activity in the brain's reward processing area, called the ventral striatum.
New research sheds light on how the sex differences in depression manifest themselves in the brain. Specifically, scientists show how inflammation affects the brain's response to rewards differently in men and women.
In a Research, Prof. Eisenberger and colleagues administered either a low dose of an endotoxin — in order to induce inflammation — or a placebo to depression-free men and women.
In total, the study included 115 participants, 69 of whom were female. The researchers randomly assigned the participants to either the control/placebo group or the low-dose endotoxin group.