Sex differences in schizophrenia.
Evidence suggests sex differences in schizophrenia reflect differences in both neurodevelopmental processes and social effects on disease risk and course. Male:female incidence approximates 1.4:1 but at older onset women predominate. Prevalence differences appear smaller. Men have poorer premorbid adjustment and present with worse negative and less depressive symptoms than women, which may explain their worse medium term outcome according to a range of measures. Substance abuse is a predominantly male activity in this group, as elsewhere. Findings of sex differences in brain morphology are inconsistent but occur in areas that normally show sexual dimorphism, implying that the same factors are important drivers of sex differences in both normal neurodevelopmental processes and those associated with schizophrenia. There are sex differences in antipsychotic responses but sex-specific endocrine effects on illness and response to antipsychotics are potentially complex. Oestrogen's role as an adjunctive medication is not yet clear due to methodological differences between the few randomized controlled trials. Services that are sensitive to differences in gender can better meet their patients' specific needs and potentially improve outcome.
Centre for Women's Mental Health, School of Community Based Medicine, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK. Kathryn.M.Abel@manchester.ac.uk,
Pub Type(s)Journal Article