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C. Clues About Gender Differences In Depression

Narrator: This is Science Today. Oxytocin, an important reproductive hormone best known for inducing labor, may possibly play a role in the high rates of depression experienced by women. Rebecca Turner, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, says the rate of depression in men and women starts to diverge in adolescence.

Turner: So, it has been speculated that the tremendous change in reproductive hormones during adolescence may have something to do with this emerging gender difference in depression.

Narrator: In a recent study, Turner found the first hint that oxytocin levels do have an effect on emotional behavior.

Turner: We found that people who have more interpersonal distress, particularly people with more social anxiety and discomfort in relationships or discomfort being alone, that these are individuals who had lower levels of oxytocin reactivity to the emotional stimulus. So, we would also want to look at how does is this hormone regulated in people who are depressed as compared to people who don't experience problems with depression?

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.