A recent study conducted by psychologists from various institutions mapped the genetic composition of adults with depression. Through this map, they aimed to identify from among children and young adults, some exposed to child abuse, who are most likely to develop depression.

The method: Genomics

Using previous studies made by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, with data from around 460,000 adults, the group of researchers utilized polygenic risk scores (PRSs).

PRSs are a numerical representation of the different features observed from a pool of subject. The Punnett Square, back in our biology classes, can be considered as a simple example of PRS.

The researchers observed 466 young adults, some with identified depression and the rest without.  All of them went follow-ups at specified intervals wherein it was noted of the healthy population were showing signs of depression.

All the subjects also underwent genotyping, the results of which were later compared to the PRSs earlier data.

On a certain level, the PRSs initially obtained from the adults were able to identify the subjects with depression. Moreover, the correlation was able to predict the first expectancy of the symptoms.

Subjects with similar PRSs who are also exposed to cruelty were also more likely to develop the disorder. The study claimed that the abuse amplified the expected results.  

Ultimately, the researchers hoped that through this study, future efforts on depression prevention can be utilized for young people manifesting the same PRSs.

Depression today

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million people have depression. Patients with the disorder were also observed to be suffering other forms of mental disorder.  

Treatment for it can vary from professional counseling to actual medication. Prevention remains to be the best cure. WHO identified that depression in areas of conflict can be significantly lowered through behavioral intervention.