A team of researchers managed to pinpoint the genes responsible for depression. More precisely, 17 genetic variations were linked to MDD (major depression disorder). These findings could pave the way to discovering a cure for the mental health issue.
The discovery of the genes responsible for cancer allows scientists to explore different treatment variations.
What is Depression?
Depression, or MDD, is considered a mental disorder by most experts. Its causes are a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
According to data provided by WHO, depression is among the primary causes of disability in the world. Approximately 350 million individuals worldwide are affected by the disorder.
Depression symptoms include fatigue, mood changes, loss of appetite and sleep. The affected people can sometimes live for years thinking that there is something wrong with them, removing themselves from social circles.
The cited study that was published in the Nature Genetics magazine is the first to find genetic associations with depression among individuals with European ancestry. The only other study that focused on the genetics of MDD was made on a sample of Asian volunteers.
Roy Perlis, one of the authors of the paper, stated that the new findings might help change the perspective on the illness. There are still plenty of people who don’t understand that MDD is a brain disease that has a particular biology, a way in which it works and affects the sufferer.
“Now comes the hard work of using these new insights to try to develop better treatments,” Perlis declared.
The team analyzed data from more than 450,000 people, the information being voluntarily offered by the participants. Among the volunteers, 121,000 had a reported history of depression.
According to the researchers, the genes responsible for depression are located in the area of the brain responsible for the birth of neurons.
A member of the Neuropsychopharmacology European College, Elisabeth Binder, declared that the study is a medical breakthrough in both the field of genetics and the one of mental illness.
“[The study] is a first glimpse of light on the horizon for clinicians and patients that in the future we may be able to base diagnoses and treatment on biology,” she stated.
However, some members of the medical society believe that by analyzing a depression history provided by a patient instead of a formal medical record, the researchers left enough room for error.
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