ORIGINAL PAPER

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 37, Issue 9, pp 401-408

The influence of age on gender differences in depression

Further population-based evidence on the relationship between menopause and the sex difference in depression
  • John CairneyAffiliated withCanadian Centre for Studies of Children at Risk, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience, McMaster University, Patterson Building – Chedoke Site, 1200 Main St. West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3Z5. cairnej@mcmaster.ca, and the Department of Community Health Sciences, Brock University, St. Catherines, Canada
  • , Terrance J. WadeAffiliated withInstitute for Health Policy and Health Services Research and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, USA

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Abstract

Objective: This study tests the hypothesis that gender differences in depression diminish after menopause (around the age of 55). Methods Using the 1994 National Population Health Survey, we examine the relationship between age and gender on major depressive disorder in relation to sociodemographic and social covariates using contingency table analyses and multivariate logistic regression. Results: Contingency table and multivariate analyses identify significantly higher rates of depression among women before and after the age period associated with menopause. A series of multivariate analyses controlling for a broad array of social factors also does not lead to any convergence in differences of rates of depression between males and females. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not have a significant impact on these observed relationships. Discussion: These findings are at odds with a recent study that has identified menopause as a point where gender differences in depression diminish. Further research is required to address this inconsistency.

Key words major depressive disorder – depression – menopause – gender – age – demographics – psychosocial resources – health status – social stress