Two Separate Studies Find Common Link for Depression

Many studies have shown that genetics play a role in depression. However, new research from two separate studies has identified a DNA region that could be linked to depression. Researchers at both King’s college London and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis set out to examine depression in two classifications of people, and came up with the same findings. “What’s remarkable is that both groups found exactly the same region in two separate studies,” said senior investigator Pamela A. F. Madden., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Washington University. “We were working independently and not collaborating on any level, but as we looked for ways to replicate our findings, the group in London contacted us to say, ‘We have the same linkage peak, and it’s significant.’”

These new findings have not identified a specific gene, but are an important step in discovering the genetic implication this region has on depression. The Washington University researchers studied heavy smokers with depression from Australia and Finland, while the King’s College group examined families with chronic depression. “Major depression is more common in smokers, with lifetime reports as high as 60 percent in smokers seeking treatment,” said lead author Michele L. Pergadia, Ph.D. research assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University. Although both groups focused on different test subjects, the results were the same.

In a related article, Gerome Breen, Ph.D., lead author of the King’s College study added, “For the first time, we have found a genetic region associated with depression, and what makes the findings striking is the similarity of the results between our studies.” Both groups of researchers believe that the test subjects need to be characterized more selectively to determine how the genetic findings relate to the family history and the smoking. Additionally, they agree that although they have made a significant finding, more research needs to be done in order to isolate specific areas of the genome that are related to depression.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • ginny


    May 18th, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    Well if that is not reason enough to give up the smoking habit then I do not know what is!

  • Peggy Harrison

    Peggy Harrison

    May 18th, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    That’s excellent news. The more we can join the dots so to speak, the more improved our chances become every day of finding a permanent cure for depression.

    We should all give pats on the back to the researchers on both depression studies for uncovering such a valuable link.

  • Amelia S. D.

    Amelia S. D.

    May 18th, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    I have always believed there is a genetic link to depression and that it’s hereditary.

    I suffer from it, as does my brother and my mother. We suspect our grandmother did too although she was never diagnosed as such. In those days it wasn’t as well known.

    This gives me hope that the hereditary connection will also be proven in the not so far away future. Thank you!



    May 18th, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Recently there have been a lot of researches that have been successful in identifying the DNA region or the particular gene for a particular aspect of a person,like depression here.My question is how exactly is this helpful?I’m pretty sure we are quite a few decades away from actually modifying these things within a person,or maybe even a foetus!

  • Charlotte


    May 19th, 2011 at 4:29 AM

    So if those dna similarities and connections really do seem to be apparent then what is the likelihood that there will be some sort of testing for this in the future? Are people really going to want to know that they are predisposed to being a smoky joe who is perpetually depressed? I would think that this would bring up whole new issues of self fulfilling prophecies and not in such a good way.

  • jemma


    May 19th, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    so some people do have it easy when it comes to depression..I just hope their treatment isn’t any more complex or more difficult than others!

  • Jen


    May 20th, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    the bad thing is that for many depressed people smoking is their only comfort



    May 20th, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    Give two individuals the same bad situation and it is very likely that they will react differently to it, their delressed levels will be different too. This has been true for a very long time but it’s always good to have scientific facts to back it up.

  • rachel


    May 21st, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    Not only could this do a lot of good with helping those who suffer with depression but could also be very helpful in helping those who have tried a lot of different ways to stop smoking maybe come up with a way to overcome this addiction. I know that there are things in the environment that encourage people to pick up habits like these but I have always thought that maybe genetics had to play a role too. You know some people can do something in a social setting and be ok while others pick it up one time and they are hooked. That right there tells me that there has to be some role marker to make these kinds of differences.

  • Shelby T. Jones

    Shelby T. Jones

    May 21st, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Does this mean that we can wind up with gene therapy for depression? We’re really advancing by leaps and bounds nowadays.

    Also, I’m giving up smoking.I’ve decided. If it causes depression along with throat cancer then it’s given me more than enough reasons to drop the habit. I’ve been meaning to for ages and this has given me that extra nudge to attempt it. Thank you!

  • rosemary meadows

    rosemary meadows

    May 22nd, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Isn’t it also a possibility that somebody who is depressed smokes, instead of smoking being a cause of depression?

    I smoke when I get stressed out but it doesn’t make me depressed at all. With all due respect, I feel they have that part backwards.

  • HavocJaws


    May 22nd, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    Is depression communicable? I’ve observed that being with my uncle makes me depressed and seethings differently-in a more negative manner than I ever would. He is a depressed person who lives alone and just a visit to his place makes me feel depressed and sad. Is this possible or am I just feeling it that way because I think he is depressed all the time?

  • Amy


    May 23rd, 2011 at 4:54 AM

    I smoke and I get depressed every time I resolve to quit and I can’t. Connection there?

  • gabrielle a.

    gabrielle a.

    May 24th, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    I was skeptical for a while on any link, thinking it was purely environmental and some people were just that much more vulnerable.

    I guess those studies have demonstrated that I was wrong and there is one between depression and smoking after all. I stand corrected.

  • frankcrawford


    May 25th, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    Even if there are genetic factors, I’m steadfast in my belief that they are very minor at best.

    I refuse to believe that genetics can make a man spontaneously suffer from depression after minor stress just because it’s genetic. It’s ridiculous to assume a man could be that mentally fragile when he is otherwise healthy.

  • jsephine camon

    jsephine camon

    June 6th, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    I think depression is more spiritual than genetic. Is there a link between the genetic and spiritual being that we should try to understand?

  • Trinnie Cash

    Trinnie Cash

    June 9th, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    Mental health is very difficult to measure. There are people who can go skydiving, but suffer from arachnophobia. Throwing themselves out of a plane at tens of thousands of feet doesn’t scare them one bit yet a tiny spider can.

    Some can be very fragile like you said, and what appears to be an inconsequential event to you can cause them to have a nervous breakdown.

    We shouldn’t underestimate mental health issues nor their impact. Everybody’s different.

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