Biomarker in boys could help predict depression
Researchers have discovered what they say is the first biological marker for predicting if a teenage boy is at a high risk for developing clinical depression.
For the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists collected saliva samples from hundreds of teen boys and girls. They measured the level of cortisol in the saliva, which is a stress hormone, and then had the teens self-report symptoms of depression.
The teens were then divided into four groups based on their cortisol level and depression symptoms. Follow-up occurred between 12 and 346 months to determine which group was most likely to develop clinical depression.
Results showed that among boys, those with depressive symptoms and high levels of cortisol in their saliva were 14 times more likely to develop clinical depression, compared with boys who had low levels of cortisol and no depressive symptoms. Girls, on the other hand, were only four times more likely to develop clinical depression if they had high cortisol levels and depressive symptoms.
Researchers say this shows that gender differences may play a part in the development of clinical depression. They also said that high cortisol levels and symptoms of depression is a new biomarker to help primary care doctors identify boys at high risk for depression.
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