Sunday, September 15, 2019

Genetics Influence on Depression

Genetics Influence on Depression
 At least ten percent of people in the US will experience major depressive disorder. This number is two times more evident within women rather than men. Going against the majority of the stigma that society manifests toward depression, in most cases the cause of depression has been linked to be about 50% genetics. In order to study the heritability of major depression within a family, scientists seek twins. If genes are a part of the cause and a patient has an identical or fraternal twin, then the identical twin would be at higher risk than the fraternal twin. This is due to the percent of genes in common being double amongst identical twins. This experiment lead many scientists to predict that the heritability of major depression is probably about 40 to 50 percent. Further tests have been done as well leading to roughly the same conclusion. For example, a British research team isolated a gene that appears to be evident in multiple family members that have been diagnosed with depression. As a result of this experiment the chromosome 3p25-26 was found in more than 800 families with recurrent depression. Even on a bigger scale, the results of a genome wide meta analysis of genetic data from 807,553 individuals (246363 cases and 561,190 controls) linked 102 genetic variants and 269 genes to depression. These numbers were then validated in an independent sample of another 1,507,153 individuals. Then within gene set analysis MAGMA* identified 269 putative genes** and 15 gene sets that were associated with depression, along with the connection between prefrontal brain regions and their role with depression. All of these experiments concluded to roughly the same ending; depression has a genetic factor along with its environmental factors. Its genetic factor is definitely not simple and is believed to be a combination of genetic changes that predispose some people to become ill, not just a single gene. Meaning that no one can “inherit” depression from their mom or their dad, it goes a lot deeper than that. Each person inherits a combination of genes from mom and dad and these combinations can potentially lead to diseases such as depression. 
          Overall, in my opinion these studies are crucial to breaking the stigma against depression. People must stop blaming those who are suffering already. In fact it has been found that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is estimated that 1 in 6 people will develop depression during their lifetime. With this being said, you know someone who is struggling whether they have come forward about it or not. This information prioritizes the fact that society must unwarp their opinions toward depression. Being scientifically researched and proven to have another reason other than “I’m just sad” has to eventually have an effect on breaking the stigma against depression. People are not simply just lazy, it’s not always their fault. Try telling a cancer patient to stop having cancer. 

a segment of DNA whose protein and function is unknown**
a genetic analysis tool*

Genetics of Brain Function. “Major Depression and Genetics.” Genetics of Brain Function

Faris, Stephanie. “Is Depression Genetic or Environmental?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 25   

        July 2017,

“Genetics of Depression Linked with Hundreds of Genes and Different Behavioral Traits.” 

         GEN, 6 Feb. 2019,  


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