Depression and Mental Health Screening Month: Are Depression and Addiction in Our Genes?
Are depression and treatment in our genes?
You probably know someone with depression or maybe you have depression yourself. Like other mental and physical health conditions, depression might benefit from early detection and treatment.
October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. Researchers are working to determine if we can screen for depression by examining our genes.
Depression and genetics
Depression often runs in families. People with depression are likely to have relatives with the same condition. This is true for other conditions as well, since people with addictions have a greater likelihood of having relatives with addiction, for example.
Because of this family connection, scholars said that there may be a genetic component to depression, but they also stress the need for several more studies of several more participants.
By studying more participants, scientists will be able to study genetic patterns and differences. They do this by examining variations that are called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, in studies known as genome-wide association studies (GWAS).
Of course, depression is more than genes. Scholars are also studying the interaction between people’s genes and their environment, what they call gene-environment intervention, or GxE.
Genetic screening and medication
Given that we’re learning about genetics, should we use it to choose a medication for depression?
Experts answer that question with an emphatic no. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Psychiatric Association advise against the tests.
The FDA says that such testing has no value. It adds that using genetic screening to choose medications could do more harm than good because it could lead to poor treatment-related choices. The tests are often expensive and unproven, so we really don’t know if they’ll be effective.
That’s not to say that all genetic testing is wrong or ineffective. Instead, it’s saying that all tests and all treatments may not work for all conditions.
It’s the same with addiction. Some people respond well to 12-step peer recovery groups, while others prefer one-on-one therapy. Different people have different needs.
We’re learning so much about genes and are developing ways to study them. Let’s hope we can leverage this knowledge to understand people’s differences and develop ways to treat them.
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – The Hereditary Factors Behind Alcohol Addiction
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Genetic determinants of depression: Recent findings and future directions
health.harvard.edu – Gene testing to guide antidepressant treatment: Has its time arrived?
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | CBT Therapy for Addiction
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