Depression can be caused due to biological, environmental or psychological factors, but not much research has been done to determine the impact of genes on increasing the susceptibility to depressive disorders. A path-breaking study has now explored the effect of genetic make-up in identifying people who may run the risk of suffering from depression. The research team has identified 44 gene variants after mapping the genetic foundation of the disease. Of the 44 variants, 30 have never been connected to the illness before.
According to the researchers, identifying different gene variants can help understand why the disease affects some but not others with similar life experiences. The research would also help scientists search and develop effective interventions for the disorder.
Identifying genetic factors can help devise novel drug therapy programs
For the study, the team compared genetic information of 135,000 people with major depression with 345,000 healthy individuals. Many of the genes tied to depression were also linked to different psychiatric circumstances like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, along with health issues related to depression, such as weight problems and insomnia.
The researchers discovered that some of the gene variants controlled neurotransmitters in the brain, making them ideal for antidepressant drugs whereas other gene variants that had nothing to do with those neurotransmitters, often failed to respond to antidepressant medications. According to co-lead study author, Dr. Patrick Sullivan, director of the Center for Psychiatric Genomics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, each newly identified genes can be seen as a potential target that could be addressed with drug therapy. He added that while most of the anti-depressants were discovered accidentally, given the recent biological discovery, research for new drugs targeting depression could be scientifically and rationally driven.
As per the researchers, rather than a single gene variant being a strong risk factor for depression, each genetic variant contributed to depression. According to lead study author Naomi Wray, although all people carry gene variants for depression, some have more of these that place them at a greater risk for being afflicted with the mental illness. She added that though several life factors contribute to depression, identifying genetic factors have in a way opened new doors for research into the possible biological risks.
The study is promising as an important step in addressing one of the most debilitating mental health conditions but it was based on self-reported depression of the participants that is considered to be far less reliable than clinical diagnosis. It will indeed require more research to fully establish the biological influence.
Mindful step toward recovery
Depression symptoms can easily be overlooked as feeling of blues or temperamental issues. It often takes months or years in diagnosing the true nature of the symptoms. When the illness remains undiagnosed or insufficiently treated, a person might even harbor thoughts of suicide. The earliest one gets checked for persistent mood, behavioral, emotional and physical changes, better are the chances of overcoming life’s challenges and becoming healthier.
Sovereign Health is one of the leading residential behavioral and addiction treatment centers in the United States that offers comprehensive, personalized and evidence-based treatment for lifelong recovery. Our residential treatment centers for depression provide traditional clinically proven treatment plans along with experiential therapies and continuing care options. To get connected to one of our finest depression treatment centers or to know about our various mental health treatment programs to suit your needs, call our representatives at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online.