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Nature and nurture contribute equally to depression

They examined five types of families with various combinations of biological or adoptive offspring

Cheryl Platzman Weinstock | Reuters 

Sad man via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

For the first time, researchers have found that the environment you’re raised in is as important as your genes in determining risk for major In a large retrospective study, researchers looked at diagnoses among more than 2.2 million people in Sweden and their parents and found that genetic factors and household environment contributed equally to odds that the would be “transmitted” from parents to offspring.
The results — based on comparing adopted and biological offspring from both intact and broken families — contradict many previous findings from twin studies that suggested genetic predisposition plays the larger role in the inheritance of depression, the authors write in JAMA Psychiatry.
“Their sample sizes were much too small and not always representative,” said lead author Kenneth Kendler, a and human and molecular genetics at in Richmond.
“Adoption studies are probably the most powerful method available to understand the mechanism of parent-offspring transmission,” Kendler said by email. “An important feature of this study was our ability to replicate the results from adoptive and biological parents by findings from step- and not-lived-with parents. This increases considerably our confidence in these findings.”
In 2015, almost seven per cent of all adults in the US, or an estimated 16.1 million individuals age 18 or older, reported having had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the The is associated with significant work, school and health problems, substance abuse and an increased risk of death by suicide.
Using data collected from January 1960 through December 2016, Kendler and his colleagues analysed newly available Swedish primary care registries, combined with hospital and psychiatric outpatient records to trace treated major depressive in parents and offspring. They examined five types of families with various combinations of biological or adoptive offspring, intact households, and those with an absent father, a stepfather or both.          

First Published: Sun, December 24 2017. 00:11 IST