Many neuropsychiatric disorders exhibit differences in prevalence, age of onset, symptoms, or course of illness between males and females. For the most part, the origins of these differences are not well understood. In this paper, we provide an overview of sex differences in psychiatric disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and risk of suicide. We discuss both genetic and non‐genetic mechanisms that have been hypothesized to underlie these differences, including ascertainment bias, environmental stressors, X‐ or Y‐linked risk loci, and differential liability thresholds in males and females. We then review the use of twin, family, and genome‐wide association approaches to study potential genetic mechanisms of sex differences and the extent to which these designs have been employed in studies of psychiatric disorders. We describe the utility of genetic epidemiologic study designs including classical twin and family studies and large‐scale studies of population registries and derived recurrence risks and molecular genetic analyses of genome‐wide variation that may enhance our understanding sex differences in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Read the entire article authored by Alison Merikangas in the Almasy Lab here.