Global Research Project On Major Depression Provides Hope For New Treatments

Lucy Donoughue
By Lucy Donoughue, updated on Apr 27, 2018

The new genetic variants discovered have the potential to revitalise depression treatment

Depression is thought to affect 14% of the global population but only half of patients respond well to existing treatments.

Now, a new study has greatly advanced the understanding of genetic risk factors by using the global data of more than 135,000 people with major depression, leading to fresh hope for development of new and more effective treatments.

The research, led by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and co-led in the UK by King's College London involving over 200 scientists, has identified 44 genetic risk factors for major depression with 30 of these being newly discovered.

The analysis also shows that the genetic basis for major depression is shared with other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, suggests that having a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) is linked to an increased risk of major depression.

Dr. Breen from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London said: "The new genetic variants discovered have the potential to revitalise depression treatment by opening up avenues for the discovery of new and improved therapies.

"This study has shed a bright light on the genetic basis of depression, but it is only the first step. We need further research to uncover more of the genetic underpinnings, and to understand how genetics and environmental stressors work together to increase risk of depression."

The study was originally published in Nature Genetics.

For support with depression, and to find a counsellor near you, visit Counselling Directory.

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