Biology, Biomedical

Is mental illness genetic?

Mental illness in 2018 is a huge issue affecting many people and unfortunately is still considered insignificant by many people. It isn’t insignificant, that’s for sure. But is it genetic?

Genetics control many aspects of our health. Some people are resistant to diseases from birth due to genetic variation, and others have disabilities because of different genetic variations. Genes make us different for better or for worse. That said, genes do not define us, and what we do throughout our lives can change us too. Those are environmental factors, and not only can they change us physically, they can also change our genes, our epigenetics.

There are tons of genetic tests that can tell you your chances of developing heart disease, cancer and many other diseases. There are even way to learn exactly how. And the same goes for any other health problem in the world, including mental illness. Even alcohol abuse can be affected by certain genes you may or may not have. The good news is that by knowing your genes you can find ways to fight them, and eventually maybe even cause a significant enough epigenetic change to balance the problem. Studies have shown that this can indeed occur, but even if that’s not really the case, gene therapy is becoming more and more powerful and tests show very promising results.

In a recent article we discussed how nuts in your diet can improve the quality of the microbes in your intestines and that in turn can help with mood, since those microorganisms can interfere with neurotransmitters in the brain.

Another relatively recent article here on Qul Mind, showed a study published in 2018 that identified a lot of new genetic locations that may play a role in depression.

So there are indeed evidence for the impact of genes to mental illness and scientists are trying to solve this health problem affecting millions of people. Newer studies have attempted to find whether depression is caused by more complex genetic mechanisms like lncRNAs which are long noncoding RNAs that can affect cellular processes, occasionally in a very significant way. Even small micro miRNAs have been shown to impact mental illness. Therefore, there could be millions of polymorphisms affecting such disorders. Not only that, but environmental factors play another major role in mental illness. This is why most antidepressants don’t really work as well as drugs designed to treat other more well understood diseases. Mental illness can be caused by many genes and influenced by many factors.

But it is not as bad as it sounds. Recent, modern techniques have allowed scientists to do huge studies really quickly and determine which targets work best for treating mental illness. Another great advancement in medicine, is personalized medicine. This is when a doctor takes into account various results from biochemical and genetic tests to determine which drug and therapy is best for you. This helps reduce side effects and increase drug performance. In the future there will certainly be better drugs since this issue, is so big that many great mind are and will be working on it.

If you would like an article on the specific genes and how each works, maybe in a more scientific way, for a more advanced audience let me know. And if you liked this article let me know too. For more articles like this one follow Qul Mind on Facebook and Twitter.

Sources: Small RNAs May Answer Big Questions in MentalIllness

Long non-coding RNAs in schizophrenia


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