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Mon, 13th Jul 2015

Predicting depression and anxiety

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More than a quarter of people are affected by anxiety or depression each year. But are some people more at risk than others? By studying groups of rhesus monkeys, Dr Ned Kalin from the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that individuals displaying a trait known as “anxious temperament” may be up to 50% more likely to go on to develop anxiety disorders later in life, and the same seems to be true in humans...

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A problem I saw in the news coverage was attributing the “35 percent of variation in anxiety-like tendencies is explained by family history” finding to genetics. The researchers produced this finding by running numbers on family trees, not by studying genetic samples to assess the contributions of genetic and epigenetic factors. The study’s “family history” correlation was different than an inherited genetic causation. The 592 macaques were the human-equivalent ages of 3 to 12 years old. Primate brainstems and limbic systems are fully developed before these ages. The researchers thus missed defining the important contributions of epigenetic factors during womb-life, infancy, and early childhood. For example, other studies show that a developing fetus adapts to being constantly stressed by an anxious mother. When these adaptations persist after birth, they may present as physiological and behavioral maladaptations of the infant and young child to a non-stressful environment. These enduring changes may be among the causes of symptoms in later life, such as the anxious overreactions this study found. http://surfaceyourrealself.com/2015/07/25/are-genes-the-cause-for-an-anxious-child-surfaceyourrealself/ PRice, Sat, 25th Jul 2015

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