Depression | Genetics | Stress

Science, more specifically genetics seem to be making a lot of progress in the study of genetics and mental illness. I believe that psychiatry is cutting edge with regards to the genome and therapies other than medication that are being discovered.

I often get asked the questions: Can depression be genetic or is depression genetically inherited or is it merely brought on by the environmental stress. Some studies have said that they can isolate parts of the brain or specific genes that could be the cause of depression, anxiety and other illnesses. Yet other articles claim that the environment can alter the genes which would give someone a genetic predisposition to depression or other mental illnesses. Still other research has claimed that toxins such as alcohol, tobacco, and other chemicals in the environment, or deficiencies of vitamins in early development can also lead to mental illness. What depression is caused by or major depressive disorder causes seem to be in the forefront of genetic studies. We have to remember that mental illness is no different than any other organ in the body not functioning properly. Often this escapes many people or they don’t understand the organic nature of these illnesses; however, NAMI and other organizations are doing a wonderful job of public awareness.

One article titled is depression curable, I have posted on my two websites claims to have isolated a certain area in the brain that is responsible for pleasure or the lack thereof. Genetic therapy might be able to repair or change the brain function by adding a missing brain protein p11 to that specific area of the brain.

Another article titled is anxiety genetic I also posted earlier says that fetal stress or traumatic events can cause the genes to “turn on or off”. Small chemical groups can cause protein complexes to bind to histones and these can control gene activity. The researchers have studied in detail a complex called PRC2 which can attach small chemical groups – methyl groups – to the histones. Protective complexes can bind to the histones when this marker is present and the genes are turned off. Their new results show that the protective complexes are lost and selected genes turned on when cells are exposed to external stress factors. You may find these fascinationg articles under the section of Videos and News of this website or under Articles of Interest on my website Scottsdale Psychiatrist.

This Article below is about genetic mutation as it is linked to depression. I found it in WebMD and it claims that scientists have found a biomarker or genetic mutation that influences how the brain responds to stress which plays a key role in depression. The study claims to have found a genetic mutation that precludes certain individuals from producing enough neuropeptide Y. When the brain produces an insufficient amount of this NPY they are prone to have more intense negative emotional responses when subjected to stressful situations. The interesting aspect of these findings is that they could possibly lead to genetic engineering and actually provide a “cure” for mental illness in the future. Currently we can treat the symptoms but seldom “cure” the illness unless the cause is a hormonal imbalance or if the symptoms are that of another illness that is treatable, such as some infectious diseases. Read the complete article on the Genetic Link Between Stress and Depression.