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Broadly speaking the epidemiological evidence suggests that women are almost twice as likely as men to develop depressive symptoms (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1990).
These apparent sex difference in depression seems to rise dramatically during the adolescent years. Before the age of 11, girls and boys seem to have fairly equal depressive rates but in adolescence, girls become much more depressed than boys. By the age of 18, females have twice the depressive rate of males and these differences continue into adulthood.
Girls are more likely than boys to seriously consider suicide, as well as to attempt it. According to the 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, 30% of high school girls report seriously considering suicide, compared to 18% of boys seriously considering suicide (Phillips, 1998).
Weissman and Klerman (1977) concluded that the male-female difference in rates of depression is real and not an artifact of corresponding sex differences in rate of help-seeking behavior.
- Kessler, R.C., McGonagle, K.A., Swartz, M., Blazer, D.G., & Nelson, C.B. (1993). Sex and depression in the National Comorbidity Survey I: Lifetime prevalence, chronicity, and recurrence. Journal of Affective Disorders. 29:85-96. PMID 8300981
- Kessler, R.C., McGonagle, K.A., Nelson, C.B., Hughes, M., Swartz, M., & Blazer, D.G. (1994). Sex and depression in the National Comorbidity Survey. II: Cohort effects. Journal of Affective Disorders. 30:15-26. PMID: 8151045
- Phillips (1998)
- Weissman M M, Klerman G L(1977) Sex differences and the epidemiology of depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 34:98-111.