Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Depression Gene

        The scientific community has long been debating genetics’ effect on depression. Researchers at the University of Michigan have presented evidence that genes do effect our susceptibility to depression. 

Their motivation was to finally debunk the rumors and present hard evidence. The dilemma began in 2003 when scientists discovered there is a connection between genes and the neurotransmitter seratonin. In 2009 however, the research was called into question and the results were deemed inexact and incomplete.

Using a broader analysis individual genetic makeup and thousands of participants later, the results were conclusive. Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D at U-M reports that a person’s genetic makeup makes a difference in how we respond to stress. Long story short, it comes down to the length of an allele. A short allele means the serotonin gene a has a harder time bouncing back from trauma. 

What does this research mean? Science is one step closer to mapping an individual’s genetic profile for depression. With this research it may be possible to treat depression at an early stage, and develop specific treatment options. Everyone responds to stress in different ways. 

Most of all, this research will decrease the concern about the genetic connection of depression. Scientists can return their focus on  advancements that treat depression. 

Check out the ScienceDaily article.

- Emma Watters

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