depression and genetics

Is Depression Genetic?

According to latest statistics reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of depression in the US adult population is 8%. The report also suggested that poorly managed depression alone is responsible for 41,149 preventable deaths due to suicide attempts at a rate of 13 adults per 100,000 of the population. Since depression is such a serious condition, healthcare providers often wonder – is depression genetic? If so, what hereditary factors are linked to the risk of developing depression in adults?

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

– Persistent feelings of sadness that doesn’t go away
– Frequent episodes of crying spells and unexplained blues
– Loss of interest in the surroundings
– Negative changes in appetite and sleep
– Suicidal ideation

Is Depression Genetic?depression and genetics
According to a British study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, scientists have successfully isolated a gene that is believed to play a vital role in the development of familial depression. The culprit gene was found in over 800 families within the study sample. Most of the correlations of depression and genetics are derived from the clinical studies conducted on identical twins. For example, diagnosis of clinical depression in one twin is usually associated with depression in the other twin in about 76% cases. Since monozygotic twins share identical DNA, it is safe to assume that depression is genetically linked.

According to another study, individuals with a history of major depression in index relatives are 3-times more likely to develop clinical depression.
Based on clinical data:

– History of depression in one parent increases the risk of developing depression in offspring by 25%.
– If both parents have a history of depression, the risk increases to about 50 to 75%.
– History of depression in siblings makes you 8 -10 times more vulnerable to develop depression at some point in life.

The connection between depression and genetics can be explained by the role of serotonin receptors (a chemical in the brain) and associated genes. Scientists believe that genetic abnormalities of serotonin metabolism or synthesis can lead to depression and other mood related medical conditions, such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder etc. Serotonin is the key chemical mediator that is responsible for boosting mood and inducing the feeling of satiety and happiness.

Is Depression Genetic Only?

According to Stanford Medicine, approximately 40 – 50% cases of depression are exclusively due to genetic causes. In other words, non-genetic risk factors play a key role in the remaining cases. Non-genetic risk factors that may aggravate your risk of developing depression are:

– Gender association: Female gender is more vulnerable to develop hereditary depression. According to a study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, females have a 42% higher chance of developing hereditary depression; as opposed to only 29% in males.
– Chronic medical and psychological issues: Coexisting mental health issues can make you more vulnerable to develop serious depression. Investigators believes that besides depression, other psychiatric conditions such as manic disorder, social phobias, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder are also genetically inherited.

– History of sexual, emotional or physical abuse during childhood.
– Major life changing events such as divorce, loss of a partner, parent or close friend, etc. Grieving is a normal process of coping; but in some susceptible individuals, it may activate the depression cascade.
– Chronic and debilitating medical illnesses.

It is believed that an individual with a positive family history of major clinical depression is three to five times more likely to develop depression at some point in life; indicating a strong genetic predisposition. It is therefore very important to watch for signs of depression in individuals who are at risk of developing hereditary depression. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with depression, Los Angeles pharmaceutical trials may provide access to the latest depression medication and treatments. With no cost to those enrolled, free medical care and possible compensation can be additional benefits to receiving possible groundbreaking depression treatments in Los Angeles.

To learn more about Los Angeles clinical trials for depression or other forms of medical issues, contact the Pacific Institute of Medical Research, which is an independent clinical research site specializing in psychiatry since 1982. Visit us online or call us at (310) 208-7144.

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