“Depression Genes” Hypotheses Debunked By Latest Study
With the advent of genetic research, there has been much speculation about the cause of mental illness, such as anxiety disorder and depression. Initially, it was theorized that all mental illness was caused by a “gene” or cascade of genes. But as the fields of epigenetics and behavioral genetics emerged, the “faulty gene or genes” hypotheses have become increasingly undermined.
We’ve maintained that anxiety disorder (and most forms of depression, if not all) were not caused by genes but by behavior, which is learned. The evidence to support our position came from years of witnessing success after success using cognitive behavioral therapy (and its many forms) as the treatment. If genes were the cause of anxiety disorder and depression, merely changing behavior would have little effect on a genetically-caused outcome. But the results from our clients proved otherwise.
It’s now known that environment and behavior greatly influence genetic expression. So, when researchers claim a heritable link to anxiety disorder and depression, we believe the link is one of passed on behavior from anxious and depressed parents to their children rather than by genes.
This is also why some siblings in a family develop anxiety disorder or depression whereas others don’t. The difference is a result of the behaviors a child learns and then uses rather than what is caused by genes.
This is also the reason why the environment we grow up in and the early life experiences we have are far more influential to mental health outcomes than that of genes.
For example, children who experience early life trauma, such as abuse, have a much higher incidence of developing mental illness, such as anxiety disorder and depression, than those who don’t experience abuse.
Moreover, those who grew up in an environment with an overly critical parent are far more likely to develop anxiety disorder and depression than those who grow up in families where a parent wasn’t overly critical.
Because our behaviors are heavily influenced by those who raise us, healthy parents typically raise healthy children whereas unhealthy parents typically raise unhealthy children.
To us, the cause of anxiety disorder and depression is clear: learned unhealthy behavior which can be changed.
Research over the last 15 years has also confirmed our observations that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and its many forms are the most effective treatment for anxiety disorder (and depression).
Now, a recent study by the University of Colorado Boulder has confirmed that the “genes” hypotheses are in error.
Their research focused on depression. The study’s press release states:
The previous studies were incorrect -- or "false positives" -- and the scientific community should abandon what are known as "candidate gene hypotheses," the authors conclude.
"This study confirms that efforts to find a single gene or handful of genes which determine depression are doomed to fail," said lead author Richard Border, a graduate student and researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics.
The study authors looked at 18 genes which have appeared at least 10 times in depression studies. Based on their findings, senior author, Matthew Keller, associate professor of Psychology and Neuroscience said, “We found that, as a set, these candidate genes are no more related to depression than any random gene out there. The results, even to us, were a little bit stunning."
The press release went on to say:
"It's like in 'The Emporer Wears No Clothes.' There's just nothing there," said Keller. "I hope this is the final nail in the coffin for those kind of studies."
We believe one of the most important admissions the researches make is that:
While risk of some medical conditions, like breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease, has been clearly linked to individual genes, it's not so simple with traits like depression.
"Any time someone claims to have identified the gene that 'causes' a complex trait is a time to be skeptical," said Border.
Anxiety disorder and depression are caused by behavioral issues, which can be addressed. Therefore, there is no reason to suffer needlessly. The road to recovery is well known and well-traveled. If you are determined to succeed, you can with the right information, help, and support.
All of us at anxietycentre.com have successfully overcome anxiety disorder. We are passionate about helping others achieve the same level of success.
The University of Colorado Boulder research was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.
- For a comprehensive understanding of: Anxiety Disorders Symptoms & Signs, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
- Anxiety and panic attacks symptoms can be powerful experiences. Find out what they are and how to stop them.
- How to stop an anxiety attack and panic.
- Free online anxiety tests to screen for anxiety. Two minute tests with instant results. Such as:
- Anxiety 101 is a summarized description of anxiety, anxiety disorder, and how to overcome it.
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