It’s often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.
Researchers have learned much about the biology of depression. They’ve identified genes that make individuals more vulnerable to low moods and influence how an individual responds to drug therapy. One day, these discoveries should lead to better, more individualized treatment, but that is likely to be years away. And while researchers know more now than ever before about how the brain regulates mood, their understanding of the biology of depression is far from complete.
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Depression is not only common but it is also a serious mental illness that negatively affects the thought process, personal behaviors and physical well-being. Most depressed people report feelings of sadness, decreased quality of life, physical and emotional issues and less interest in activities. Other symptoms include fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, trouble sleeping, suicidal thoughts, appetite issues and chronic depressed mood. Therefore, depression can highly affect your school, work and relationships.
Every part of your body, including your brain, is controlled by genes. Genes make proteins that are involved in biological processes. Throughout life, different genes turn on and off, so that in the best case they make the right proteins at the right time. But if the genes get it wrong, they can alter your biology in a way that results in your mood becoming unstable. In a person who is genetically vulnerable to depression, any stress can then push this system off balance.
Mood is affected by dozens of genes, and as our genetic endowments differ, so do our depressions. The hope is that as researchers pinpoint the genes involved in mood disorders and better understand their functions, depression treatment can become more individualized and more successful. Patients would receive the best medication for their type of depression.
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Another goal of gene research, of course, is to understand how, exactly, biology makes certain people vulnerable to depression. For example, several genes influence the stress response, leaving us more or less likely to become depressed in response to trouble.
Perhaps the easiest way to grasp the power of genetics is to look at families. It is well known that depression and bipolar disorder run in families. The strongest evidence for this comes from the research on bipolar disorder. Half of those with bipolar disorder have a relative with a similar pattern of mood fluctuations. Studies of identical twins, who share a genetic blueprint, show that if one twin has bipolar disorder. These numbers don’t apply to fraternal twins, who like other biological siblings share only about half of their genes. If one fraternal twin has bipolar disorder, the other has a 25% chance of developing it.
The evidence for other types of depression is more subtle, but it is real. A person who has a first-degree relative who suffered major depression has an increase in risk for the condition of 1.5% to 3% over normal.
Studies on effects of medical marijuana on depression are still in the early stages. Researchers suggest that the possible benefits include mood stabilization and normal endocannabinoid function restoration. Scientists are already looking into medical marijuana and its ability to cure depression resulting from chronic stress.
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In Florida, you can’t simply walk into a medical cannabis dispensary and purchase ounces of the highest grade of marijuana. You must first get approval from an All Natural MD Medical Marijuana Doctor who will get you registered electronically for medical marijuana card in Florida. All Natural MD has many locations in Florida. Please contact us to find a location near you in Sarasota, Lakeland and many more. (800) 250-6737.