Genetic Determinants of Depression: Recent Findings and Future Directions

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Abstract

Learning Objectives

After participating in this activity, learners should be better able to: 1. Evaluate current evidence regarding the genetic determinants of depression 2. Assess findings from studies of gene-environment interaction 3. Identify challenges to gene discovery in depression

Depression is one of the most prevalent, disabling, and costly mental health conditions in the United States and also worldwide. One promising avenue for preventing depression and informing its clinical treatment lies in uncovering the genetic and environmental determinants of the disorder as well as their interaction (G×E). The overarching goal of this review article is to translate recent findings from studies of genetic association and G×E related to depression, particularly for readers without in-depth knowledge of genetics or genetic methods. The review is organized into three major sections. In the first, we summarize what is currently known about the genetic determinants of depression, focusing on findings from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In the second section, we review findings from studies of G×E, which seek to simultaneously examine the role of genes and exposure to specific environments or experiences in the etiology of depression. In the third section, we describe the challenges to genetic discovery in depression and promising strategies for future progress.

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