• U.S.

Health: Depression: The Blues Gene

1 minute read
David Bjerklie

Jack and Joe both lose their jobs and their girlfriends. Rotten luck. Then their 401(k)s tank, and their dogs get run over. Argh. But while Jack spirals into despair, Joe takes his losses and eventually bounces back. How do you explain the difference? Depression may seem to be a matter of who’s made of sterner stuff, but a new study shows that genes play an important role. Researchers have found that individuals with the short version of a particular gene involved in the production of a key brain chemical are more than twice as likely to get depressed in the aftermath of a stressful event than those with the long, more depression-protective version. While the exact causes of depression remain difficult to unravel, this finding is further evidence that the disease is best explained not by genes or circumstances alone but by the interaction of the two. –D.B.

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