Many Sad Returns

Teenage women more likely to have depression relapse


Researchers at Duke are trying to understand why teenage girls who suffer from major depression are at a greater risk of relapsing within five years than their male counterparts.

While nearly all teens studied recovered from an initial incidence of the disorder after seeking treatment, more than half of all females, but only one-third of males, saw symptoms return, researchers found.

John Curry, the study’s lead author and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, hypothesizes that young women may be at risk for a second depression if they have a feeling that they cannot personally make any impact in society, which affects the desire to set or reach goals. Also, young women may have a tendency toward unproductive, repetitive thoughts that focus on their negative experiences, personal weaknesses, or bad feelings.

Although females are more likely to become depressed than males during adulthood as well as adolescence, adult women are not more likely than men to have a second bout of major depression, Curry says.

Major depression is characterized by sadness; loss of interest; disruptions in appetite, sleep, or energy; poor concentration; feelings of worthlessness; and suicidal thoughts or behavior. Adolescents in the study had to have at least five of those symptoms to be diagnosed with the disorder.

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