Obvious sex differences in mental health

There are many mental disorders that affect the sexes to different degrees. Depression and anxiety are two examples that are more common in women, while men are more likely to be diagnosed with addiction. Boys are more often diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), while girls are more likely to be diagnosed with eating disorders.

Photo of a man
Ivan Nalvarte, Photo: Anders Lind

Despite these differences, to a great extent the sexes are treated similarly, as Ivan Nalvarte, a researcher at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, explains.

“We know too little about sex differences to be able to adapt treatment successfully. More research is required into this,” he says.

Genetic differences are believed to offer partial explanation, as do social factors linked to gender; for example, women are more inclined to seek care for mental health issues.

The gonadal hormones oestrogen and testosterone are also significant; the risk of suffering from depression is greater when oestrogen levels drop sharply, during pregnancy and the menopause for example. Aside from this, the impact of gonadal hormones is somewhat less clear.

Text: Sara Nilsson, first published in Medicinsk Vetenskap nr 3 2020