Biological, psychological and social factors underlie the differences in depression between men and women. These factors affect the age of onset, course of illness coexisting physical and psychiatric illnesses — and even vulnerability to suicide attempts.
Recent research has helped us understand both the similarities and important differences in brain structures, neuron pathways and the molecules that affect neurons that are active in our blood and cerebrospinal fluid.
We all start off life as females. Until the male fetus starts producing testosterone at about seven weeks, it is indistinguishable from the developing female. From this common beginning men and women differentiate from each other physically , emotionally and behaviorally.
Physical distinctions are obvious just by looking at the different appearances of men and women. But the differences go far deeper and show up not only in structural variations in the brain but in the pattern of neuron brain pathway and in chemicals circulating in the blood and cerebrospinal fluids.
Next week: Gender and Depression – Physiological Differences, Part Two.