New research is focusing on the search for genetic clues (or biomarkers) that can help explain the roots and remedies of depression. Treatment for severe or debilitating depression can be a frustrating process of trial and error in which doctors cycle through different drugs to find the best match. The fact that current drugs only treat 50 percent of depression cases only compounds the process.
Despite the variety, current drugs all try to treat depression in a similar way by boosting positive chemicals in the brain. Scientists are now beginning to suspect that diverse genes may explain much about depression. Several developments in the last year suggest that a more objective and clear-cut understanding of depression will soon be possible.
In one study, an experiment yielded a mouse that seemed to confirm that genetic variations can make individuals more prone to depression. Another project reported a group of genes that may warn of early-onset major depression. One big possibility of these findings is an objective blood test for depression.
Although long-stigmatized, depression and similar disorders often result in debilitating conditions that can wreak havoc wife patients' personal and professional lives. Continued research into the objective underpinnings of these conditions will hopefully make it easier to deal with both the symptoms and the practical effects of depression.
Source: Genetic Engineering News, "The Search for Depression Biomarkers," Patricia F. Dimond, Ph.D, Aug. 27, 2012
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