In men and women diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the same genes show the opposite changes. In other words, the molecular underpinnings of depression in men and women may be different. That’s according to a new postmortem brain study published on [March 14] in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The study could in the future help lead to more effective treatments for depression, if it turns out that men and women need different types of treatment.
The study is significant for two reasons. For one, it is the first to suggest an opposing pathology for depression in men and women, which could eventually influence how depression is treated.
But the study also highlights the necessity of diversity in scientific study. Major depressive disorder affects women about twice as often as men. Women are also more likely to experience symptoms like weight gain along with depression, suggesting the biological mechanisms at work may be different. But many depression studies only look at men, and ones that look at both sexes do not necessarily differentiate between the two when reporting findings.
The science of genetics overwhelmingly suggests how similar we all really are. But it also underscores how much there is to gain from understanding and embracing how we are different.
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