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Gender and Depression Across the World—and Across Ages

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As y’all know, females and males are mostly alike—in overall intelligence, in physiology, and in how we perceive, learn, and remember. All but one of our chromosomes is unisex. Yet gender differences in mating, relating, and suffering are what grab our attention. And none more than the amazingly widespread and reliably observed gender difference in vulnerability to depression.

 

In this new Psychological Bulletin meta-analysis, Rachel Salk, Janet Hyde, and Lyn Abramson digest studies of gender and depression involving nearly 2 million people in 90 countries. The overall finding—that women are nearly twice as likely as men to be depressed—is what textbooks have reported. What’s more noteworthy and newsworthy, in addition to the universality of women’s greater risk of depression, is the even larger risk for girls during adolescence. As their figure, below, shows, the gender difference in major depression begins early—by puberty—and peaks in early adolescence.

289161_Gender and Depression.png

The take-home lesson: For many girls, being 13- to 15-years-old can be a tough time of life.

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About the Author
David Myers has spent his entire teaching career at Hope College, Michigan, where he has been voted “outstanding professor” and has been selected by students to deliver the commencement address. His award-winning research and writings have appeared in over three dozen scientific periodicals and numerous publications for the general public. He also has authored five general audience books, including The Pursuit of Happiness and Intuition: Its Powers and Perils. David Myers has chaired his city's Human Relations Commission, helped found a thriving assistance center for families in poverty, and spoken to hundreds of college and community groups. Drawing on his experience, he also has written articles and a book (A Quiet World) about hearing loss, and he is advocating a transformation in American assistive listening technology (see www.hearingloop.org).