Researchers have identified a gene that could play a significant role in the development of depression. Depression is a debilitating psychological condition that can cause people to experience decreased productivity, physical symptoms, relationship conflicts and if severe enough, can potentially cause someone to contemplate suicide. This new discovery could offer hope for innovative therapeutic treatment regimens for the many people who do not respond to traditional regimens. Dr. Martin A. Kohli from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, author of the study, said, “Current treatments for major depression are indispensible but their clinical efficacy is still unsatisfactory, as reflected by high rates of treatment resistance and side effects,”
The study involved examining the association of the gene SLC6A15 in people with major depression against the control subjects who did not present any symptoms or history of depression. The findings revealed that SLC6A15 functioned at a lower level in people with depression compared to those without. As further evidence, similar findings were reported in a mouse model that showed the gene created a higher level of stress, a state that can cause higher susceptibility for depression.
There have been numerous studies conducted previously that have tried to identify a genetic link for depression. However to date, there is still no concrete answer as to the biological or environmental conditions that may influence the onset of depressive symptoms. Most studies do however agree that depression is caused by social and biological factors. These latest findings suggest that the genetic link may offer future hope for being able to address the biological factors that increase a person’s susceptibility for developing major depression. In a related article, senior author Dr. Elisabeth B. Binder said “Our results support the notion that lower SLC6A15 expression, especially in the hippocampus, could increase an individual’s stress susceptibility by altering neuronal integrity and excitatory neurotransmission in this key brain region.” Experts hope that his new discovery will lead to better treatment therapies for depression.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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