Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Depression- Nuture vs. Nature?

New research, published in the journal "Biological Psychiatry", suggests that a supportive and loving home life can be all that's needed to override the genetic vulnerability to depression.

The study found that those who carry a version of the serotonin transporter gene, 5-HTTLPR, are more susceptible to depression than people without this gene variant, but only in gene carriers who grew up in a stressful home environment. In contrast, young adult gene carriers who had a supportive and warm family had a reduced risk of depression.

Of the 118 young adults in the study, 27 percent carried two copies of the short form of 5-HTTLPR. A similar percentage had two long versions of the gene, and the rest of the adults carried one copy of each version. Those who carried the two short forms had a higher risk of depression if they reported having a dysfunctional family life marked by hostility, conflict and coldness. Those who grew up with a nurturing family had a lower risk of depression.

In the development of depression, these findings point to the importance of nature vs. nurture. Researchers believe that a strong family life can be enough to reverse the effects of this risk factor and that a dysfunctional family life can create stress that sends genetically vulnerable people into depression.

This study indicates that those with a family history of depression need not worry as long as they have a family with a strong support system in place and are there for you during the tough times.

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