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New Evidence Of Genetic Link Between Depression And Anxiety

 

New Australian research, led by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, has identified 509 genes that influence both depression and anxiety - confirming a genetic relationship between the mental health conditions.

The study findings have been published overnight in the prestigious journal Nature Human Behaviour, and are the first to identify so many genes that are shared between depression and anxiety.

The senior researcher and head of QIMR Berghofer’s Translational Neurogenomics Group, Professor Eske Derks, said depression and anxiety are the two most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the world and often co-occur together in the same person.

“Not a lot has been known, until now, about the genetic causes of why people may suffer from depression and anxiety. Both disorders are highly comorbid conditions, with about three-quarters of people with an anxiety disorder also exhibiting symptoms of major depressive disorder,” Professor Derks said.

“We identified 674 genes associated with either depression or anxiety – and importantly about three quarters of those genes were shared.

“The better our understanding of the genetic basis of these psychiatric conditions, the more likely we are to be able to treat them.

Lead researcher from QIMR Berghofer’s Translational Neurogenomics Group Jackson Thorp

said they examined the genetic relationship between 28 individual symptoms related to depression and anxiety to understand how they overlapped.

“These kinds of complex disorders are influenced by large numbers of genes, with each having a small individual effect, which is why we needed a very large sample size to get a clear picture of the genetic influences on these disorders,” Mr Thorp said.

“While many genes are shared between anxiety and depression, we also found genes that are specific to each disorder.”

For more details of the study, please see the media release on the QIMR Berghofer website.

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