Thursday, May 6, 2010

Women's response to antidepressants

Wendy K. Marsh, MD, Assistant professor, Department of psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

Kristina M. Deligiannidis, MD, Assistant professor of psychiatry, Director, Depression Specialty Clinic, Center for Psychopharmacologic Research and Treatment, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

Both men and women respond well to antidepressants, yet there are notable differences between the 2. Understanding why men and women may differ in response to antidepressants helps clinicians better tailor their treatment choice and dosing.

This article outlines some of differences—and lack thereof—in response rates to antidepressants. Our discussion of why these differences may occur is framed in the context of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and the influence of gonadal hormones on antidepressant-related neurotransmitter systems. The second section focuses on major reproductive phases of adult women (the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause) and how antidepressant response rates can influence clinical decision making, such as antidepressant timing, dose, and choice of potential adjunct treatments.

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