New research bolsters the idea that the risk for psychiatric and developmental disorders isn’t specific to particular conditions — and that could mean new opportunities to treat mental illnesses that focus more on their common genetic roots.
Mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia clearly run in families, but neuroscientists have always assumed that the biological drivers behind these disorders were distinct. However, expanding on results reported earlier this year from psychiatry’s largest ever experiment, researchers now report that known genetic variations account for 17% to 29% of the risk for schizophreniadepression, bipolar disorder, autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And risk for one condition is often strongly linked with risk for others.
Published in Nature Genetics, the study was funded by the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) and involved collaboration between nearly 400 scientists in 20 countries working with genetic data from some 59,000 people.
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