Women with depression may be much more likely than men to get relief from a commonly used, inexpensive antidepressant drug, a new national study finds. But many members of both sexes may find that it helps ease their depression symptoms.
The persistence of a gender difference in response to the drug — even after the researchers accounted for many complicating factors — suggests that there’s a real biological difference in the way the medication affects women compared with men. The reasons for that difference are still unclear, but further studies are now examining hormonal variations that may play a role.
The study involved citalopram, a commonly used antidepressant that is available both as a generic drug and under the brand name Celexa.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Depression Center and their colleagues from around the country tested the drug’s ability to help depression patients achieve remission, or total relief from their symptoms, in a multi-year study called STAR*D.
The gender differences emerged from a detailed analysis of data from 2,876 men and women who had a clear diagnosis of major depression, and took citalopram over a number of weeks, with the doses increasing over time.
In the end, women were 33 percent more likely to achieve a full remission of their depression, despite the fact that women in the study were more severely depressed than the men when the study began.
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