Saturday, June 2, 2012

Early puberty linked to depression

Early puberty linked to depression

Findings by researchers from Melbourne University and the Melbourne mental health clinical service Orygen Youth Health(1) show there may be a biological reason why children - particularly girls - who go through puberty early were more prone to depression later in their teenage years. Previously, it had been assumed this was largely a social problem caused by children being teased about developing earlier than their peers.

Using magnetic resonance imaging of the brains of 155 adolescents, researchers found those who went through puberty earlier than their peers had an enlarged pituitary gland - the part of the brain responsible for triggering puberty - and were in turn more likely to have symptoms of depression by the time they were young adults.

The pituitary gland, at the base of the brain, sends out the hormones that spark the physical and emotional changes associated with puberty. But the gland also plays an important role in the brain's stress system, so it may be that early puberty causes the gland to hyperstimulate, which in turn makes it more difficult for young people to cope with stress.

1. Sarah Whittle, Murat YĆ¼cel, Valentina Lorenzetti, Michelle L. Byrne, Julian G. Simmons, Stephen J. Wood, Christos Pantelis, Nicholas B. Allen.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 37, Issue 7, July 2012, Pages 881–891

Psychological Medicine, Volume 29 / Issue 05

3. George C. Patton, M.D., Craig Olsson, Ph.D., Lyndal Bond, Ph.D., John W. Toumbourou, PhD, John B. Carlin, PhD, Sheryl A. Hemphill, PhD, Richard F. Catalano, PhD
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent PsychiatryVolume 47, Issue 12, Pages 1424-1432, December 2008

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