Mental Health

Stress, Depression Impacted by Particular Gene?

| by Alex Groberman

According to a new study, a gene that directly impacts how the human brain deals with stress may also play a vital role in depression.

Apparently, people with a particular genetic mutation that causes them to produce less of the brain chemical neuropeptide Y (NPY) are more prone to both – developing depression and having a stronger negative emotional reaction to stress.

The same research noted that low levels of NPY may lead to stronger emotional responses to negative stimuli -- thus, making people less able to defend themselves against the factors that lead to depression.

In the study, three different tests were conducted during which researchers looked for the link between the aforementioned genetic mutation and depression in 39 adults, along with depression in 113 healthy adults.

According to the results posted in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the methodology behind the tests included measuring the amount of NPY expression in each of the participants. Further, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure the brain’s response to various words of positive, negative and neutral nature.

People who had a low level of this particular gene mutation had more activity in the area of the brain that was associated with handling emotions than those with high levels.

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