Researchers at the UC Medical Center
Women's Health Research Program, one of few groups in the country that
focus on causes and treatments of disorders that predominately affect
women, are investigating a new medication that shows promise in
alleviating the effects of depression.
Women suffering from depression are invited to participate in the
study, during which they will receive free study-related medication and
Typical symptoms of depression include
feeling sad or down, losing interest in usual activities, feelings of
guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness, and sleeplessness or lack of
Lesley M. Arnold, MD, director of the
Women's Health Research Program, says although it's not certain why
women are more prone to depression than men, there is some evidence of
a genetic link.
Dr. Arnold, an associate professor of
psychiatry, says women "may inherit a propensity to become depressed in
response to stress."
There's also evidence, Dr. Arnold says,
that healthy women produce less serotonin, an important
neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation, than men.
"We suspect that stress depletes
serotonin," Dr. Arnold says, "so if you start with lower levels, as
women do, serotonin could be depleted more easily, making women more
susceptible to depression."
Depression is just one of the program's
research interests. Investigators are also studying fibromyalgia, a
chronic pain condition that is much more common in women than in men.
Fibromyalgia is associated with fatigue, sleep disturbance and several
UC's Women's Health Research Program is a
national leader in fibromyalgia research and has an on-going clinical
trial and a genetic study.