This harmful experience can greatly increase someone’s odds for having depression — more so if you’re genetically prone to it. (Photo: Corbis)
According to a group of researchers from around the world (including those from London and various regions in Spain), people who have suffered from abuse during their childhood are more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression — and even more so if they are genetically predisposed to the condition.
Over a three-year period, scientists analyzed patients from 41 different health clinics in seven Spanish provinces who ranged in age from 18 to 75. And here’s what they discovered through genetic testing: The participants who were shown to have limited gene function implied in both BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein-coding gene) and serotonin transmission were extra-sensitive to the damaging effects of child abuse — whether the abuse was psychological, physical or sexual. In other words, this particular lack of gene activity mixed with an abusive history can result in an increased risk for suffering from depression.
Blanca Gutiérrez, a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Granada and the lead coordinator of this study, says that these findings — which were recently published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience — are significant in terms of treatment.
“It is an important result, which proves a triple genetic-environmental sort of interaction whose relevance is even more important if we take into consideration that the response to antidepressants appears to be fundamentally mediated through proteins codified by the two genes we have studied,” she states in a press release.
“Our results present a fundamental genetic-environmental model to explain this sort of therapeutic response.”