Answered by Janet Lee on Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Studies have shown women to be twice as likely to become depressed, but experts don't yet know exactly why. In the past, researchers have attributed the increased incidence to oppression or to the fact that women are more likely to seek help for their problems, but according to Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and epidemiology in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, these explanations don't hold up. "Although women are more likely to seek help, many of the people we surveyed, across many different cultures, aren't in treatment. We also see depression in privileged and educated women," she says. "We don't know why women are more susceptible, but we suspect it has to do with men and women being 'wired' differently." Weissman, who has studied depression extensively and is co-author of the new book The Comprehensive Guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy, says "hormones might be to blame, because the differences in depression incidence are most marked between the onset of puberty and menopause."
While researchers continue looking for reasons to explain the disparity, keep in mind that both sexes respond to common treatments for depression such as psychotherapy and medication. If you think you may be depressed, speak with your physician, who can refer you to a mental health professional.