Katherine R. Luking, Ph.D.

Fellow in Depression

Project Details

Mentors

Joan R. Luby, M.D.
Deanna M. Barch, Ph.D.


Institution

Washington University in St. Louis


Project

Social loss sensitivity in female adolescent depression, new target for preventative intervention


Project Title

Social loss sensitivity in female adolescent depression, new target for preventative intervention

Project Summary

Sex differences in rates of depression are observable by age 13 with a disproportionate number of females experiencing onset of depression in their teen years, and particularly in those females who experience puberty onset earlier than their peers. This project focuses on using neural and behavioral methods to characterize biological responsiveness to social loss (social rejection) in females during early adolescence and then tests several key hypotheses including that biological responsiveness to social loss is increased in early onset puberty and potentiates the depressogenic effect of stress during early adolescence. If hypotheses are supported, biological sensitivity to social loss may provide a key opportunity for future preventative interventions in adolescent females. Decreasing biological sensitivity to social loss may be able to reduce the psychological ‘sting’ of social loss experiences, which are ubiquitous in adolescence, and thereby reduce their ability to catalyze depression in adolescent females.