23andMe’s New Depression Report
Depression is an all-too-common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. In the United States alone it’s estimated that one in five people will be diagnosed with some form of depression in their lifetime.
23andMe’s new Depression Report is powered by data from people who have consented to participate in 23andMe research. The report uses machine learning techniques to estimate an individual’s likelihood of being diagnosed with depression.
The estimate is made using a statistical model that includes thousands of genetic markers and information on an individual’s ethnicity and birth sex. You can learn more about the science and methodology behind our new report in this white paper.
Note that 23andMe’s genetic health report on depression can provide users with helpful information on their estimated genetic likelihood of being diagnosed with the condition, but it is not a substitute for clinical diagnosis and treatment.
What is depression?
Depression, itself, is not just about feeling sad or down. Those feelings are experienced by everyone. Depression is a more persistent and sometimes chronic condition that manifests itself in people differently.
There are several factors that contribute to whether someone develops depression. Genetics can play a role but so do other factors. Some of those other factors include trauma, or other life events, as well as environmental factors and/or chemical imbalances in the brain. Studies have shown that stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and substance use can also contribute significantly to depression. In addition, other factors like discrimination due to race, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, also play a role in depression, as does social isolation.
Symptoms for depression often include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and or worthlessness. These feelings might also be accompanied by a lack of interest in activities that one previously enjoyed, or a lack of energy, or difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Some people with depression may also experience unexplained changes in appetite, aches and pains or issues with their digestive system. And in some cases, people with depression can have thoughts of harming themselves or suicide.
With the right resources and support, individuals dealing with depression can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.
While it is but one of many factors that contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing depression, genetics can help explain how and why some people develop depression.
Depression is known to run in families, and it is also highly genetically correlated with anxiety.
You can read more in an article in the 23andMe blog at: https://blog.23andme.com/articles/23andmes-new-depression-report.