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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mental Health Influenced by Genetics

mental health
Last week, we covered at length the persistence of stigma when it comes to addiction and other forms of mental illness. There is no legitimate reason for shaming people who face mental health problems in the 21st Century. The science is irrefutable; people living with use disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder do not choose to be affected.

Researcher tells us that multiple factors play a role in the development of mental health issues. Scientists have yet to provide a formula for predicting who will face behavioral health or mood disorders. A method for determining when someone will begin experiencing problems is not available. However, it is possible that science will provide a means of foretelling mental illness in the near future.

Again, we do know some of the underpinnings of mental illness. Family history, for instance, is believed to increase one’s risk or protect an individual from dealing with issues in the future. However, a person’s genetics is not the sole cause of having mental health problems. Studies show that there are biological and emotional components, as well.

Those who struggle with mood disorders or behavioral health problems, by and large, have inadequate or underdeveloped coping mechanisms. With the hope of feeling better, people will resort to unhealthy actions in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. People who engage in the practice of self-medication exacerbate their symptoms and put themselves at risk of developing a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

Environmental factors must be considered too when striving to explain the causes of mental health problems. Both nature and nurture, along with genetic predisposition, have a hand in the development of psychological illnesses.

“The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, but genetic and environmental factors interact to increase (or decrease) the risk of mental illness for any particular individual,” said Ravi N. Shah, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

 

The Genetic Underpinnings of Mental Health Disorders


As we move through May at The Haven, we feel it is essential to continue the discussion on mental illness. Being Mental Health Month, we would like to draw your attention to some exciting research out of Australia. The findings of a recent study could help experts determine which individuals are at the highest risk of experiencing a mental health disorder.

Identifying who is at most significant risk could lead to earlier interventions, and potentially prevent some adverse experiences. Scientists at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia, discovered genes linked to common forms of psychiatric morbidity, ABC News reports. Lead researcher Professor Eske Derks and colleagues identified 70 previously unknown genes linked to severe mental illnesses, including:
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
“There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health disorders and again our findings show that genetic risk factors play a large role and that these disorders have a biological component,” said Professor Derks.

The research team observed the activity or expression of more than 300 genes, according to the article. Previous research had already found associations between 261 genes and mental illness. The discovery of 70 new genes could provide a more accurate road map for experts to follow in diagnostics and treatment.

“The important finding is that we now have a better understanding of what these genes are doing in patients with a mental health disorder,” Professor Derks said. “So what we want to do next, and what will be one of our future studies, is to see if there’s any existing drugs that target these genes that we have now found — if they can normalize the activity of these genes and hopefully make the patients better.” 

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


Mental health disorders, addiction or otherwise, are treatable through a combination of evidence-based therapies. It is often the case that patients living with substance use disorder also experience a co-occurring disorder. Simultaneous treatment of both conditions is vital to successful treatment outcomes.

Our Pismo Beach co-occurring disorder treatment provides a continuum of care for individuals with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about the services we offer.