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 for 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. 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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