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‘Depression Gene’ Linked to Response to Stress

Study Shows Gene Plays Role in the Ways People React to Stressful Events

Gene Testing Not Advised continued...

No one should go out and get tested for this gene given the small effect it has on depression risk, he says.

That said, discoveries like this one will help usher in the era of personalized medicine for the treatment of depression.

Depression still has a stigma associated with it, but “the more and more of the biology we figure out, the more we can at combat the stigma associated with depression,” Sen says.

In addition, this line of research can pave the way toward more effective treatments for depression, he says. “Identifying genes can help us identify what is happening in the brain and this will help us develop much better treatments for depression.”

George Tesar, MD, a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, says this genetic variation “is not a cause of depression, but a factor that increases risk of depression in certain individuals.”

It is not a given that if you have this gene, you will develop depression when you experience a stressful situation, he says.

“This article resurrects [the depression gene,] in a fashion, but it never died,” Tesar says. “People still stand by this as a variable.”

When this gene was first discovered in 2003, people in the field wanted it to be the variable to help guide clinical decision making.

It is not the variable, but a variable, Tesar says.

Rudolf Uher, PhD, a clinical lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, says in a news release that the new study “gives a very clear answer: the 'short' variant of the serotonin transporter does make people more sensitive to the effects of adversity."

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