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Depression, ADHD and Co: Mental illnesses are genetically linked

Depression, ADHD and Co: Mental illnesses are genetically linked


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Study shows: Numerous brain diseases are genetically related

An international study showed that genetic relationships exist between certain brain diseases. This increases the risk of contracting the correspondingly correlated one in the event of an illness.

Mental illnesses are common

According to health experts, roughly every fourth person suffers from a mental disorder such as depression at some point in their lives. Scientific studies have shown that we all have the facilities for this. If you suffer from such an illness, there is a high risk of developing another psychiatric or neurological illness. Because many brain diseases are genetically related.

Genetic relationships between certain diseases

In a worldwide study by the international "Brainstorm Consortium", the genome of 1.1 million patients with psychiatric and neurological diseases was analyzed for the first time.

As stated in a communication from the Medical University (MedUni) Vienna, it was shown that there are genetic relationships between certain diseases of the brain.

For example, psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression correlate significantly with one another.

The results of the study were recently published in the scientific journal "Science".

"There is no" pure "depression"

The diagnosis of psychiatric illnesses, such as anorexia, depression or schizophrenia, has so far been carried out primarily phenotypically based on the symptoms.

However, this usually resulted in a certain lack of clarity, because many classification models do not adequately describe the actual diseases.

Andreas Karwautz, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MedUni Vienna and co-author of the study said:

"There is no 'pure' depression, or" pure "anorexia that does not show symptoms of other mental disorders. A diagnosis is always heterogeneous. "

Genome data from over a million people analyzed

The international study by the Brainstorm Consortium, an amalgamation of several working groups from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now analyzed data on the genome of around 265,000 psychiatric and neurological patients and 785,000 healthy people.

According to the information, it was investigated whether diseases with certain genetic characteristics are related. For the current study, common genes from a total of fifteen neurological and ten psychiatric disorders were examined.

MedUni Vienna provided data material for patients with eating disorders from the university clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry.

The study authors set three priorities for the study: psychiatric and neurological diseases were considered as separate groups and then compared to each other.

Great genetic similarities

The central result was that there are great genetic similarities in some psychiatric illnesses, which increases the risk of developing the correspondingly correlated one in the event of an illness.

This applies to schizophrenia, depressive episodes, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and ADHD (attention deficit disorder), but not to Tourette syndrome and autism.

These showed hardly any genetic correlations. Depression and anxiety disorder are genetically closely related, even if the symptoms are different.

The same goes for anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The result of the second focus is that, according to the study, neurological diseases generally differ more genetically in their group.

The third focus analysis showed that they also differ genetically from psychiatric disorders, with the exception of migraines. There were correlations with ADHD, Tourette syndrome and depressive episodes.

The study therefore showed that there is overlap in special genetic systems, which once again calls into question the traditional diagnostic classifications.

It can also be seen from the material that genetically correlating diseases, for example psychoses, have similar symptoms that occur in both schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.

"This genome analysis with the high number of cases relevant for the first time is a good basis for improving the psychiatric classification models by means of diagnostics based on neurobiology," says Karwautz. (ad)

Author and source information


Video: Dr. Roger S. McIntyre: Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder (September 2022).


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