Conference Paper American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting
A Multinational Study of the Emergence of Gender Differences in Depression
18 May 2002
Objective: While the gender gap in depression among adults is well established, the age when this phenomenon appears during adolescence is less clear. To address this, we present a cross-national examination of the emergence of the gender gap in depression during adolescence using national longitudinal panel data from Canada, Great Britain and the USA.
Method: The two wave 1994-1996 Canadian National Population Health Survey employs a diagnostic measure across a 24 month interval providing 12-month prevalence rates of major depressive disorder. The British Youth Panel measures depressive symptomatology across five annual waves beginning in 1995. The two-wave 1995-1996 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health uses a measure of depressive symptomatology across a 12 month interval.
Results: Females have significantly higher rates of depression for each sample overall. When samples are decomposed by age, the gender gap in depression consistently emerges by age 14 across all three national samples irrespective of the measure employed or whether categorical cut-offs or untransformed scale scores are used for depressive symptomatology.
Conclusions: There is a consistent pattern in the onset of the gender gap in depression across all three countries and measures at age 14. This consistency provides important etiologic clues concerning underlying causes of depression and identifies at what age diagnosis, treatment and intervention strategies should be directed.