Nav: Home

Same genes could make us prone to both happiness and depression

July 19, 2016

The same genes that make us prone to depression could also make us prone to positivity, two psychology researchers have suggested.

Professors Elaine Fox, from Oxford University, and Chris Beevers from the University of Texas at Austin reviewed a number of studies for their paper in Molecular Psychiatry. They say that there is a need to combine studies in mental health genetics with those that look at cognitive biases.

Professor Beevers said: 'Cognitive biases are when people consistently interpret situations though particular mental 'filters' -- when people have a cognitive bias that emphasises negative aspects or thoughts, they are more at risk of mental health disorders. There is a lot of research about these biases, and a lot of research about genes that may make people susceptible to mental ill health. However, we suggest that it could make more sense to bring together these two areas of research.'

Professor Fox said: 'If you take a gene that is linked to mental illness, and compare people who have the same genetic variant, it becomes clear that what happens to their mental health is based on their environment. We suggest that while no gene 'causes' mental ill health, some genes can make people more sensitive to the effects of their environment - for better and for worse.

'If you have those genes and are in a negative environment, you are likely to develop the negative cognitive biases that lead to mental disorders. If you have those genes but are in a supportive environment, you are likely to develop positive cognitive biases that increase your mental resilience.'

Professor Fox is currently carrying out further research into this combined genetic and environmental effect on our mental filters, which she has dubbed the 'CogBIAS project', in a programme of work funded by the European Research Council.

She intends to see how sets of genes may affect mental health outcomes and how these are moderated by people's environments. The hope is that such research may enable us to understand people's underlying genetic sensitivity and deliver more tailored support to deliver the best possible mental resilience and health for each person.
-end-


University of Oxford

Related Mental Health Articles:

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: Mental health harms related to very frequent social media use in girls might be due to exposure to cyberbullying, loss of sleep or reduced physical activity
Very frequent use of social media may compromise teenage girls' mental health by increasing exposure to bullying and reducing sleep and physical exercise, according to an observational study of almost 10,000 adolescents aged 13-16 years studied over three years in England between 2013-2015, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.
Can Facebook improve your mental health?
Contrary to popular belief, using social media and the internet regularly could improve mental health among adults and help fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, finds a new Michigan State University study.
A gut feeling for mental health
The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds.
Mental health care increasing most among those with less distress
A new study shows that more Americans are getting outpatient mental health care and the rate of serious psychological distress is decreasing.
On-again, off-again relationships might be toxic for mental health
A researcher from the University of Missouri says that the pattern of breaking up and getting back together can impact an individual's mental health and not for the better.
More Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...