FEB 03, 2020 1:05 PM PST

Genetic Characterization of Bipolar Disorders, Major Depressive Disorder

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Mikyska

Mood disorders, like Bipolar, Major Depressive Disorder, and Schizophrenia, among others, are difficult to define clinically.  Unlike disorders that affect a patient's physical being, mood disorders cannot be measured and manifest differently between patients while sharing many symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose correctly and manage.  

A new Genome-Wide Association study from King's College in London examined genetic data from 185,000 patients with either Bipolar Disorder (types 1 and 2), and Major Depression, with 439,000 controls to determine distinct genetic markers for each of the three mood disorders.  

The study revealed a stronger correlation between Bipolar type 2 and Major Depression than between the two types of Bipolar Disorder.  This link is especially clear with single-episode patients of Major Depression more than chronic sufferers.     

Both types of Bipolar Disorder, or Manic-Depressive Disorder, are defined by cycles of mania- over stimulation, reduced desire to sleep, racing thoughts, euphoria, and irribilty- followed by major depression.  Bipolar type 1 is represented with cycles of mania and depression about equally, while in type 2, depression takes a larger share of the cycle.  

Having known genetic markers for mood disorders will help doctors distinguish whether a depressive episode is likely to be a single event, or progresses into a chronic mood disorder.  Dr. Jonathan Coleman, the first author of the study, says, "genetic testing won't ever replace clinical insight," but could expedite treatment and management options.

 

Sources:  Coleman et. al., ScienceDaily, Mayo Clinic

About the Author
  • Amanda graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a degree in Biology. After working in research on creating biochemicals from genetically engineered yeast, she started freelance science writing while traveling the world. Now, Amanda is a Lab Manager and Research Assistant at the the University of Central Florida, studying the molecular phylogeny of parasitic wasps. She writes about the latest research in Neuroscience, Genetics & Genomics, and Immunology. Interested in working on solutions for food/water security, sustainable fuel, and sustainable farming. Amanda is an avid skier, podcast listener, and has run two triathlons.
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