New Research on Mental Disorders Suggests Genetic Link
(News4us.com) March 13, 2013
In one of the largest genetic studies of mental illnesses that has been completed to date it has been determined that five of the most prevalent mental disorders may share a genetic basis or link.
What this can mean for the mental health community is that the reasons that may have been identified as the cause of psychiatric disorders and mental health problems may be completely inaccurate.
The disorders which shared these genetic links are as follows:
Autism: impaired ability to socially interact with others and communicate. All efforts to communicate and relate are extremely restricted and behavior is sometimes extremely repetitive.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: otherwise referred to as ADHD, this disorder usually consists of problems in attentiveness, impulsive nature and hyperactivity or over-activity. ADHD can quite often keep children from their normal age and range of development.
Bipolar disorder: a disorder of manic mood swings. People who suffer from bipolar disorder quite often will go between periods of intense highs and extreme lows.
Schizophrenia: this mental disorder can take on a number of forms and generally makes it difficult for people who suffer from it to think or function correctly in some situations.
Schizophrenia makes it difficult to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t and will cause people to have high emotional responses in some situations.
Major depressive disorder: this is also known as clinical depression. In major depressive disorder people generally find it very difficult to feel feelings of happiness. They may experience manic episodes and be recurrently sad as a result of the mental condition.
As we can see these mental disorders share only a few characteristics but over the greater picture they are not necessarily linked.
This is what makes it quite surprising that there is a genetic link between these five disorders.
In order to determine this genetic link a team of a research professionals in 19 countries analyzed the DNA genomes of 61,000 people, some who had these disorders and some who did not.
For specific regions of genetic code were found to link these five disorders together.
What this research could eventually mean is that we could develop better drugs for treating these disorders.
For example, certain heart medications can work to affect calcium channels which could also work as a disruptor for these specific regions of our DNA which could work to mediate symptoms of these diseases.
Through drug testing and development we may be able to come up with far better medications.
Alternately we can also look into potential symptoms of these diseases when children are still in the womb. Spotting these risk factors within a fetus’s DNA could give parents a better idea of what to expect later on in a child’s life.
Because many who suffer from mental health issues will experience several of these disorders at once in an overlap pattern, the genetic link is also explained in patient records and the commonality of overlapping symptoms.
It will be interesting how these findings change how we think of mental health as well as mental health treatment options for the future.
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