The links between depression and genetics

A new Edinburgh University study highlights the link between depression and genetics. (Credit: Sebastian Faugstad)

An international study conducted by the University of Edinburgh has revealed a clear link for the first time between depression and genetics.

Researchers analysed over 2 million people and discovered 269 new genes that can now be associated with depression, which many scientists are claiming will open the door to new treatments in the future. The study was the largest of its kind to date and oversaw the analysis of personal data spread throughout 20 countries.

The study found that genetic variations were impacting nerve connections controlling both decision making and personality in certain parts of the brain. The discovery has shed light on a significantly dark area surrounding the roots of the illness and has highlighted specific personality traits that could be at risk.

With depression now known to be running within families, scientists estimate that over a third of all previous and existing cases could be linked to genetics. As many as one in six people will be affected by this illness in their lifetime.

Edinburgh University (Credit: Wikipedia)

Findings indicate that people who carry such genes will also be at risk of schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and neurotic personality traits. However, research suggests that something as simple as DNA screening would be able to indicate whether a person will be affected by this genetic disorder long before they start experiencing symptoms.

Professor Andrew McIntosh, the lead scientist on the study, is optimistic about the positive impact the findings will have on the future of mental health.

He said: “These findings are further evidence that depression is partly down to our genetics. We hope that by launching the GLAD study, we will be able to find out more about why some people are more at risk than others of mental health conditions, and how we might help living with depression and anxiety more effectively in the future.”

Evidence has also suggested that smoking could be directly related to depression in multiple cases, despite environmental factors remaining the number one cause for the illness.

Over 40,000 people throughout the UK will now be tested in the next phase of research which will require participants to submit their saliva for genetic analysis and fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire.

Blue Mondays are to be beaten

With the most depressing day of the year just around the corner, EN4News offers some tips on how to avoid getting the Monday blues.

The warmth and comfort that accompanies the festive season have started to fade away, leaving the cold and dark nights in its wake. You go to sleep in the dark and you wake up in the dark. All of a sudden, your workplace opens its doors again, you might be heading back to school or university, and it is almost as if Christmas has never even happened.

Of course, there is evidence that it did actually happen — a quick glance at most bank

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The weather is partly to blame for the birth of Blue Monday.

balances shows the perils of the giving season. No matter how much you pinch yourself, and even though you think your bank balance looks like a nightmare, your generosity was not a dream.

These are the factors that appear to cause the most depressing day of the year: Blue Monday. The one day that seems to make the entire country, the whole world even, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Usually falling on the third Monday of the month, it is understandable why so many people feel the January blues. Combined with the reasons previously mentioned, there is also the likelihood of failed New Year’s resolutions that can cause such despair.

Way back in 2005 on January 24, the first ever Blue Monday arrived, and it became acceptable to feel a little down on that particular day.

Now, depression is not limited to one day per year — it is a mental health condition. People suffer from feelings of anxiety and unhappiness on a daily basis, and that is why some view Blue Monday as a great way of spreading awareness of the condition.

Some charities have shown support for this specific day, and have started organising awareness campaigns. Samaritans began a fundraising campaign called “Brew Monday“, encouraging people to gather for a cup of tea and raise money to ensure support continues for the 1,324 people who call the charity every day.

It is the day when people with depression, or any other mental illness that causes them to feel down, realise they are not as alone as they once thought.

Not only that, but coping mechanisms are also discussed and shared more often. Here’s our list of tips to help you fight the blues.

Lifecyle of a Butterfly

Infographic by Michaella Wheatley for EN4News

No matter how you feel on Monday, January 21 this year, otherwise known as 2019’s Blue Monday, know that it is just one day in the year – and hopefully the advice above will make it a little easier.

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