Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Mary's Brain vs. Harry's Brain

Genetics, brain structure, social roles make women more prone to clinical depression.
WebMD Feature

The causes of clinical depression and anxiety are complex -- a weave of social, biological, and genetic factors.

At the heart of it all, there's this: Women have twice the risk of depression as men do.

Recommended Related to Depression

Dealing With Chronic Illnesses and Depression

For millions of people, chronic illnesses and depression are facts of life. A chronic illness is a condition that lasts for a very long time and usually cannot be cured completely, although some illnesses can be controlled or managed through lifestyle (diet and exercise) and certain medications. Examples of chronic illnesses include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. Many people with these illnesses become depressed. In fact, depression is...

Read the Dealing With Chronic Illnesses and Depression article > >

"This is true across all countries, all cultures, all income levels, across all levels of success -- women have higher rates of depression," says Myrna M. Weissman, PhD, an epidemiologist and psychiatry professor at Columbia University School of Medicine in New York.

"Before puberty, rates of depression are about equal between boys and girls," she tells WebMD. "At puberty, the rates skyrocket in girls. There are men who suffer from depression, but not anything near the rate in women."

In 1999, Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, noted these same rates in his report on mental health. Although women have more opportunities than ever before, they still fight a bigger battle against depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

Under the Skull

Using sophisticated brain imaging, researchers have found that men's and women's brains are indeed built differently.

In one study, a group of researchers found that men's brains synthesize more of the mood-lifting brain chemical serotonin than women's brains do -- 52% more.

Men and women also respond to antidepressant medications differently. Some antidepressant drugs work better for men while others may prove to be more beneficial for women.

For women, antidepressant drugs that affect serotonin, like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, work better, reports Susan G. Kornstein, MD, head of the outpatient psychiatry clinic at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Serotonin found primarily in a brain region called the amygdala, where emotions are processed, explains Stephan Hamann, PhD, a psychology researcher at Emory University in Atlanta.

This is the "fight-or-flight" center of the brain, the region that registers anxiety, fear, joy, stress, even lust, he says.

Emotional Secrets of the Amygdala

The amygdala is an almond-shaped area of the brain that controls emotion. In adulthood, the size of a man's amygdala doesn't differ much from a woman's. However, recent studies have found that when men and women look at photographs, they register the memory on opposite sides of the amygdala.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path