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Aurora magazine

Is depression really a matter of genes?

Over the past 23 years, researchers have always linked depression to environmental and genetic factors. This has been since the first genetic factor linked to the disease was discovered. Nevertheless, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatric could deny this correlation. According to the author, the correlation between the 18 genes identified to date and depression is based on statistically insignificant data.

It all starts with an analysis done in Colorado on a vast biodata bank. The analyzed sample includes about 620,000 individuals. The authors of the study combined a series of data:

  • presence of genetic variants related to the disease;
  • type of depression;
  • environmental conditioning;
  • child abuse;
  • difficult socio-economic situations.

Apparently, no relevant link would have emerged between genes and major depression. According to the authors, therefore, the many cases reported in other studies would be false positives, probably caused by too small samples.

The genes would have nothing to do with depression. Almost. In reality, the authors of the study call for an in-depth study of possible genetic causes of the disease. However, they advise focusing primarily on the possible environmental causes, such as social conditions and lifestyle.

We are in fact far from having a clear and unambiguous idea of ​​what the actual causes of the major depression are. For Massimo Cozza, Director of the Department of Mental Health of the ASL Roma 2, the treatment of depression must take into account the complexity of the disease. Not only drugs, but also psychological, social and psychotherapy support. All taking into account the peculiarities of the individual.