Report: 44 Genomic Variants Now Tied to Major Depression

genetics, depression, gene expression, biologyMajor depression can interfere with everyday life and make it difficult to function. Now, researchers claim that they have identified 44 different genomic variants (loci) that have a statistically significant association with depression. With this information, it may be easier for doctors to spot and treat the condition in patients in the future (“Forty-four genomic variants linked to major depression,” 2018).

“This study is a game-changer,” said lead author Patrick F. Sullivan, Yeargen Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Genetics and Director of the Center for Psychiatric Genomics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “Figuring out the genetic basis of major depression has been really hard. A huge number of researchers across the world collaborated to make this paper, and we now have a deeper look than ever before into the basis of this awful and impairing human malady. With more work, we should be able to develop tools important for treatment and even prevention of major depression.”

Of the 44 loci identified by the Sullivan and his team, 30 are newly discovered. In addition, 153 other significant genes were also identified.

“Major depression represents one of the world’s most serious public health problems,” said Steven E. Hyman, former director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. “Despite decades of effort there have been, until now, only scant insights into its biological mechanisms. This unfortunate state of affairs has severely impeded treatment development, leaving the many people who suffer from depression with limited options. This landmark study represents a major step toward elucidating the biological underpinnings of depression.”

Identifying Sadness vs. Depression

It is not uncommon for us to become sad from time to time, but how do we know when it’s more than just a passing emotion?

Some of the underlying symptoms of depression are a lack of energy, motivation, and an inability to experience joy (Winch, 2018). One of the key differences between passing sadness and depression is that depression is an abnormal emotional state. This means that it negatively impacts our thinking, emotions, perceptions and behaviors across the board.

If you think that you may be suffering from depression, do not hesitate to contact a medical professional for more information and assistance. There are treatment options for individuals who may be living with depression.


“Forty-four genomic variants linked to major depression.” University of North Carolina Health Care. Retrieved May 4, 2018.

Winch, Guy. “The Important Difference Between Sadness and Depression.” Psychology Today. Retrieved May 4, 2018.

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