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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2015, Article ID 476238, 7 pages
Review Article

Sex Differences in Genetic and Environmental Influences on Adolescent Depressive Symptoms: A Meta-Analytic Review

1Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD 21250, USA

Received 2 September 2015; Revised 21 October 2015; Accepted 28 October 2015

Academic Editor: Martin Alda

Copyright © 2015 Jie Chen and Jing Yu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although sex difference in the mean level of depressive symptoms has been well established, the sex difference in genetic and environmental influences on adolescent depressive symptoms is unclear. The current study conducted a meta-analysis of twin studies on sex differences in self- and parent-reported adolescent depressive symptoms. For self-reports, genetic factors influenced adolescent depressive symptoms equally for boys and girls, accounting for 46% of variation, but shared environmental factors had stronger impacts on adolescent girls’ versus boys’ depressive symptoms (13% versus 1% of the variance). For parent-reports, genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental factors influenced adolescent depressive symptoms equally, with separate estimates of 34%, 35%, and 31%. The implications of sex difference in genetic and environmental etiologies of depressive symptoms are discussed.