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Gender differences in depression: Critical review

  • Marco Piccinelli (a1) and Greg Wilkinson (a2)
Abstract
Background

With few exceptions, the prevalence, incidence and morbidity risk of depressive disorders are higher in females than in males, beginning at mid-puberty and persisting through adult life.

Aims

To review putative risk factors leading to gender differences in depressive disorders.

Method

A critical review of the literature, dealing separately with artefactual and genuine determinants of gender differences in depressive disorders.

Results

Although artefactual determinants may enhance a female preponderance to some extent, gender differences in depressive disorders are genuine. At present, adverse experiences in childhood, depression and anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence, sociocultural roles with related adverse experiences, and psychological attributes related to vulnerability to life events and coping skills are likely to be involved. Genetic and biological factors and poor social support, however, have few or no effects in the emergence of gender differences.

Conclusions

Determinants of gender differences in depressive disorders are far from being established and their combination into integrated aetiological models continues to be lacking.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Marco Piccinelli, Servizio Psichiatrico di Diagnosi e Cura, Presidio Ospedaliero del Verbano – sede di Cittiglio, via Marconi 40, 21033 Cittiglio (Varese), Italy. Tel: +39 0332 607 245; fax: +39 0332 626 691
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

Nofunding. G.W. is Editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Footnotes
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Gender differences in depression: Critical review

  • Marco Piccinelli (a1) and Greg Wilkinson (a2)
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