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Pharmacogenomics. 2009 Sep;10(9):1511-26. doi: 10.2217/pgs.09.102.

Sex-specific differences in side effects of psychotropic drugs: genes or gender?

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacology of Natural Products and Clinical Pharmacology, University Ulm, 89081 Ulm, Germany.


Sex differences observed in the adverse effects associated with psychotropic drugs have not been reported consistently in the literature. In this review, we discuss the current published data on sex differences observed in the occurrence, symptomatology and reporting of the adverse effects associated with psychotropic drug effects, and discuss their clinical relevance. We reviewed the published data up to April 2009 on sex differences in the side effects of antipsychotics, antidepressant and mood stabilizers, by systematically searching PubMed using combinations of search terms and retrieving relevant references specifically reporting on these issues. The majority of the data was retrieved from clinical studies where the main outcome parameters did not relate specifically to sex differences. In most instances, sex was associated with other factors influencing side effects such as age, disease and body weight. Sex-related differences were reported in the side effects associated with antipsychotic drug-induced weight gain and metabolic syndrome, symptoms of sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs and cardiac arrhythmic side effects associated with antipsychotic drugs. Women might differ from men not only in incidence but also in the presentation of clinical symptoms associated with adverse psychotropic drug effects. Clinicians should be made aware of the differences reported in the literature regarding the symptomatology, severity and recognition of the adverse psychotropic drug effects found in men and women.

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