07-28 Gender differences in depression diagnoses appear at age 12, finds study

Posted in Depression, Depression Treatment, depressive disorders

Gender differences in depression diagnoses appear at age 12, finds study

The onset of adolescence can be an unsettling time. It brings along many significant physical, psychological, emotional and social changes that can take a person by surprise, Many of the experiences may not be pleasing and create disturbances in the mind of the growing child. While the changes are distressing for both sexes, women seem to be more affected by them. A recent analysis has come up with striking revelations about gender-specific symptoms and diagnoses of depression typically appearing at age 12.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin in April 2017, analyzed existing studies comprising over 3.5 million people from more than 90 countries. The analysis reported a clear gender gap in the onset of adolescent depression, which started to emerge as early as 12 years. According to the researchers, the current finding is a correction to the earlier belief that gender difference emerged during the age of 13–15 years.

Janet Hyde, professor of psychology and gender and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and teammates found that women were at double the risk of being affected than men. According to them, their meta-analysis is a much more convincing evidence to prove this however, they do not wish to stereotype it as a women’s disorder because adolescent depression strikes one-third of men too.

The onset of depression in girls is linked to puberty, which typically occurs around the same age. Hyde blamed the hormonal changes for the appearance of depressive symptoms but did not completely rule out the contribution of social and environment changes. Highlighting the possible association between the onset of puberty and sexual harassment, the researchers were unclear about what exactly between the two factors increased the likelihood of depression in adolescent girls. Though the study does not include people younger than 12, researchers feel the need to address depression in girls before they turn 12 in order to diagnose mental health problems timely and take preventive action.

Proper and timely diagnosis help in treating depression

The researchers also explained the need of right diagnosis of major depression through proper evaluation of symptoms. Generally, the symptoms of depression are analyzed on patients’ self-reporting and doctor’s experience basis. For example, “I feel sad” may or may not qualify for a diagnosis of major depression. To see if it actually qualifies or not, rigorous evaluation from an expert is required.  The long-term benefits of early diagnosis and subsequent treatment of depressive symptoms in adolescents can help them enjoy healthy adulthood and a more meaningful life.

At the same time, it is also important to direct efforts focused on reduction of risk factors associated with depression, which may include relationship problems, smoking in adolescent girls, and sexual and emotional abuse. Mental health training programs for professionals and primary health care workers also need to be introduced to identify and treat depressive symptoms in adolescents. Mental health education at school level can also increase adolescents’ competence in recognizing their own symptoms. It can help them face life’s challenges and cope with everyday stress. Setting up mental health counseling services in schools can also help a great deal in preventing teen suicides due to overwhelming depression and giving them a new lease of life.

Professional help for people with depression

The experts at Depression Treatment Centers of California are there to help you find some of the best depression clinics in California where therapeutic approaches are combined with traditional forms of treatment for sustained recovery. People looking for effective solutions to treat their depression can join us over an online chat session or call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 and know more about state-of-the-art depression rehab centers in California.


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