Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
Genetic Links Between Mental Illnesses
Posted in Autism / Autism... by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Mar 13, 2013
Most clinicians think of autism, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disease, major depression, and schizophrenia as distinctly different mental illnesses even though there are some similarities in terms of symptoms and behaviors. Therapists have learned to distinguish them and to provide very different types of treatment. Recently a new study, published in the journal Lancet, has revealed findings that report a demonstrable genetic link between all of these disorders.

The methodology used to complete this research was complex, as the researchers looked at over 33,000 psychiatric patients and made comparisons between that group and a group of 28,000 people without mental illness. Using these subjects they compared scans of all DNA doing a genome-wide association study.

The researchers were able to determine that, at a genetic level, all of these diseases are likely to exist on a continuum instead of being, as previously believed, 5 separate conditions. Historically there have been many cross overs with these conditions. In fact, Sigmund Freud at one time described schizophrenia as a group of diseases.

The hope, expressed by Dr. Ken Duckworth, Medical Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is that if mental illness can be understood from a genetic standpoint, which highlights the process of the illness, then maybe the stigma around mental illness in general will decrease. The less elusive things are the less afraid people tend to be about them.

This new information may not only help people to understand the origins and processes of certain disorders, but it may also lead to new treatments that can target the physiological mechanisms at play in these illnesses. This can lead to better therapies, both medical and psychological, and can even contribute to earlier diagnoses, which is often a significant determinant in the long-term quality of life for someone suffering with any of these mental health conditions.

- Cyndi


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CONDITIONS AND COMMUNITIES: Autism / Autism Spectrum  •  Bipolar Disorder  •  Depression  •  Depression - Teen  •  Depression in Children  •  Depression Supporters  •  Schizophrenia

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Yeah right Cindy - more support for the Drugs companies - I think its time DS recruited some recovery orienttated mental health specialists to provide the other side of the argument. What do you think Cindy ? I would appreciate your reply as you are a community advisor - I am still waiting for Dr Orange to reply to another similar post. Thanyou
By sacred  Mar 21, 2013
I have a half-sister who was raised by her mother. Considering how damaged my other siblings and I are, I can only explain the fact that she's functional and happy due to her mother's upbringing, despite the fact that she shares our father's genes. It would appear parenting is far more powerful than genetics when it comes to depression.
By Spiky  Mar 16, 2013
Genetic or not, my parents were depressed people, so that's all I knew. I thought I was normal and was confused by other kids' reactions to me. They sensed something wrong and either avoided or mocked me. While some conditions may be influenced by genes, it seems like this has become an excuse to discard the importance of how you raise children. If you raise your kid in a healthy way, or at least screw them up in the "right" way, they're likely not to turn out to be serial killers. I even believe that some parenting deficits can result in compensatory behaviors in the child that actually strengthen certain abilities. Anyway, my parents' depressive tendencies, and more importantly lack of any healthy coping mechanisms, left me very little to work with, and it's just compounded over the years.
By Spiky  Mar 16, 2013
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