Everyone in genetics keeps hunting for the needles in the haystacks. Using data from almost 500 thousand healthy subject and over 230 thousand individuals with one of eight common psychiatric disorders, researchers found 109 genes linked to these mental health conditions. That was a lot of genes to wade through, but today’s computers allow us to do what in past decades was impossible.
This is important to functional MD’s like myself for a number of reasons. First, we practice personalized medicine and genetics is very personal. Second, this may help us answer “why” questions for many patients.
The third reason I am intrigued lies in the fact that identifying the genes leads to further research on why these genes affect mental health. They are just a step towards understanding the underlying mechanisms of mental illness. Then finding ways to overcome this or prevent it comes next.
Given that many of these genes appear to begin their influence during the person’s intrauterine life, prevention may be a better goal that treatment. By the time a patient comes to us for anxiety or depression, they already know that they have a symptom or “illness”. They don’t need genetics to tell them they might get it. They need genetics to shed light on how to overcome it.
I was not able to access the full study to share the list of genes, but I am sure this information will disseminate quickly throughout medicine. I look forward to using this type of research to help others live healthier more abundant lives.
Phil H. Lee et al. Genomic Relationships, Novel Loci, and Pleiotropic Mechanisms across Eight Psychiatric Disorders. Cell, 2019; 179 (7): 1469 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.020
Thanks to Science Daily:
Massachusetts General Hospital. “Largest study of its kind reveals that many psychiatric disorders arise from common genes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191212142634.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.