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Gender Differences in Depression Tend to Appear About Age 12

Still unclear why more women than men affected by the disorder, researcher says

depressed girl

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Gender differences in depression diagnosis and symptoms start to appear around the age of 12, according to research published online April 27 in the Psychological Bulletin.

Researchers spent two years reviewing existing studies that involved a total of about 3.5 million people from more than 90 countries. The team looked at diagnoses of major depression as well as symptoms based on self-reported measures.

Overall, the investigators found that depression affects significantly more women than men. The study also found the gender gap appears two to three years earlier than previously thought. The gap tapers off after adolescence but remains nearly twice as high for women.

"We used to think that the gender difference emerged at 13 to 15 years, but the better data we examined has pushed that down to age 12," study coauthor Janet Hyde, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and gender and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a university news release. "We need to start before age 12 if we want to prevent girls from sliding into depression. Depression is often quite treatable. People don't have to suffer and face increased risk for the many related health problems."

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