Thursday, June 18, 2009

But Not Unhappy Science Friday: Your Jeans vs. Your Genes

Hey folks! Just came across this story at, "Study: 'Depression Gene' Doesn't Predict the Blues."

According to a metastudy of recent genetic studies, the presence of the so-called depression gene (named 5-HTTLPR. What? That's hard to remember? Nah.) does not necessarily determine whether or not a person will have depression. Several studies a few years ago showed that people in high stress situations who were depressed also had this genetic combo. This correlation (I feel obligated to remind you all,"correlation is NOT causation") spurred some enterprising companies to offer testing for the gene. Which apparently lead some people who were carriers to decide to avoid getting married or having children--even though the tests are only supposed to help match patients with antidepressants--because they assumed their children were doomed.

The metastudy Time reported on says people have (surprise!) jumped to some spurious conclusions. Depression is complicated. Genes are complicated. The way the two interact is, um, complicated. How depression manifests itself is still as much about your jeans as it is about your genes. It's a lot about how you deal with your emotions, what kind of support system you have, what kind of environment you grew up in.

Which is one reason why I have hope for my kids. Because of our family tree they each have a 75-80% chance of developing depression and/or an anxiety disorder. That number has made me wonder on more than one occasion if I actually should be reproducing. But, hopefully, I'm working out some of the kinks in my life so that that probability will mean little to them. They'll have the tools they need to create a fulfilling life, even if they are depressed.

And there's always Jesus. He makes up for all our weaknesses. He even turns them into strengths. That makes me feel better too.

For your weekend viewing pleasure, here's a clip from the movie, Gattaca. Yep, I'm a geek and I loved this movie. Especially the alternate ending (Sorry there's no sound. Blame Youtube. Try humming soulfully. That'll get you in the mood!):


Misty Lynne said...

I love Gattica too. Makes you stop and think. My family has heat issues. My husband's family has OCD.

If I were a dog, I would have never been born. If my husband were a dog, he would probably never be allowed to mate. Responsible breeders don't breed dogs with serious conditions or undesirable personality traits.

Thing is, we're not dogs. We are humans, and part of being human is learning how to cope with our deficiencies. Yes, we can pass down our problems, but we can also pass on our good genes as well. And maybe, we can help our children through their problems because we've already been there.

Lura said...

I LOVE Gattica! One of my all-time favorites. Thanks for sharing the alternate ending; I'd never seen it before. I'm glad to be a geek right along with you.

Charlotte said...

Everybody has something. Nobody has squeaky genes. Besides, I firmly believe that genetics is not destiny and we are given our challenges for a reason. Your kids couldn't ask for a better mother than you!