Over 200 Genes Linked with Major Depression
A new study into the genetics of major depression has identified over 200 genes linked to the disorder. This study is the largest of its kind, including participants from all over the world; other past studies have usually focused on people of European ancestry. So this particular study serves to provide a more holistic view of the genes that may increase one's chances of developing depression.
Although depression is a widely common mental illness, how it develops is still shrouded in mystery. But researchers have been working for the past years now to demystify the mechanism. And there's been steady progress till now.
Of course, if we can determine exactly what causes depression, we can find more targeted treatments. And treating depression would be less of a shot in the dark for some patients. (Think: treatment-resistant depression).
Interestingly, this new study reveals that one of the genes contains a protein that is particularly influenced by a diabetes drug known as metformin.
I talked about the role of metformin in treating psychiatric illnesses in this blog. Apart from buffering against weight gain from antidepressants, metformin also helps in reducing depression and anxiety. Some findings suggest that women who take metformin may even have over 3 times less risk of developing depression.
As though that were not enough, this new study further supports why the diabetes med may rightly be repurposed in treating depression.
But it's not just metformin: there are several other genes out of the 200 identified that could be targeted by other drugs not before used in psychiatry.
This apparently can help find new effective medications for depression.
The researchers also noted that some of the genes linked to depression are unique to some origins. For example, some genes may only increase depression risk among people of European origin. So to have more comprehensive treatments, we need to look at people of diverse ancestries.
As usual, more research will be needed to further bring clarity and develop these new potential medications.
But you don't have to wait till then.
If you're currently living with depression, the best thing you need now is support. Although it’s the last thing you desire. That's how depression can make you feel.
We can help. Hope Mental Health is a safe, non-judgmental space for you to discuss your mental health issues and find solutions with professionals who understand. Whether it's depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia, let us offer you the help you need.
Get in touch now.