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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 44 (2002) 5, 301 - 311

New research

Depression in men and women: sex differences in treatment outcomes of farmacotherapy and combined therapy

C.M.T. Gijsbers van Wijk, J. Dekker, J. Peen, F. de Jonghe

background Gender has emerged from the literature as an important determinant of the prevalence, clinical presentation, and possibly the treatment response of major depression.
aim The present study aimed to explore gender differences in the acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of two types of treatment for depression, antidepressants only, or combined with short-term psychodynamic supportive psychotherapy (KPSP).
method In a randomised prospective study of 129 outpatients (49 men, 80 women), diagnosed with a major depressive disorder according to DSM-III-R criteria, the outcomes of pharmacotherapy (antidepressants) and combined therapy (antidepressants and psychotherapy) were compared over a period of 6 months, using repeated measures of the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS).
results Gender differences in patient characteristics and clinical manifestation were minimal. Gender differences in acceptability and feasibility were not shown. For efficacy there was a trend that men showed less response to antidepressants only than women. Men responded more rapid to combined therapy, women responded more rapid to farmacotherapy.
conclusion Depressed men and women seem to differ in their response to treatment with antidepressants and/or psychotherapy. Replication studies and further research into the causes of these gender differences are recommended.

keywords depression, gender, treatment outcome, women