Researchers Discover Genetic Factor That May Influence Risk for Depression

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Tom


    May 3rd, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    It’s a good development but I don’t think there will be a fix for years. After all, a lot of work remains to be done even after having identified the particular gene.

    But it is a development nevertheless. There are some people who get bogged down and depressed easier than some others and if we really find a fix for this in the near future, it can help a lot of such people.

  • karie e

    karie e

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:36 AM

    testing for this available?

  • leah


    May 10th, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    My mother in law had depression for years before she passed away and my husband, her son, has the same tendency. Neither of them ever found a treatment option they responded to, which told me there was a genetic link there. I’m glad that’s been confirmed and hope is out there now.

  • Simone


    May 10th, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    That’s good news. At least we can now progress on formulating individual treatments for those who have been unable to get help up till now and are a step closer to understanding the actual causes of depression. The more we know the higher our chance of finding truly effective depression treatments.

  • Peyton


    May 11th, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    Genetics aside I’m certain that social issues play the biggest role and are to blame with depression. Not genes. Nobody is immune to depression but it does come from somewhere obviously over time. You don’t just wake up in the depths of depression one day when you’ve been fine the day before.

  • Katherine


    May 12th, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    Some people aren’t willing to see they are depressed. Many will ignore it and think that they can plow through it if they do, and they can’t. When it finally hits them hard enough that they cannot ignore it anymore, they just go straight down. What’s ironic is that you get even more depressed about being depressed. I hope they speed up the research on this treatment therapy for depression. It’s such a widespread affliction and still a mystery in many ways.

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