Are mental illnesses genetic?

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Author's Note: Are mental illnesses genetic?

When we find out (or suspect due to our family histories) that we're genetically predisposed to such conditions as cardiovascular diseases or cancer, many of us want preventative measures and we want them now. A healthy lifestyle, and maybe cholesterol-lowering medications, may help prevent you from having a heart attack. And cancer? Angelina Jolie, for example, took a proactive stance against breast cancer after testing positive for the high-risk mutation in the BRCA-1 gene -- in 2013 she underwent a voluntary double mastectomy. Are we close to the day when we'll be able to preventively treat our mental health as we do other chronic conditions?

Related Links

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  • Asher, Jules. "Five Major Mental Disorders Share Genetic Roots." National Institute of Mental Health. March 1, 2013. (May 16, 2013)
  • Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. "Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis." The Lancet. Vol. 381, no. 9875. Pages 1371 - 1379. April 20, 2013. (May 16, 2013)
  • Goldberg, Joseph. "Mental Illness Basics." MedicineNet. Feb. 14, 2012. (May 16, 2013)
  • Kolata, Gina. "5 Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors, Study Finds." The New York Times. Feb. 28, 2013. (May 16, 2013)
  • Maugh II, Thomas H. "Genetic Marker Found: Psychiatric Illnesses Can be Inherited, Study Shows." Los Angeles Times. Feb. 26, 1987. (May 16, 2013)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Mental illness." Sept. 15, 2012. (May 16, 2013)
  • Nuffield Council on Bioethics. "Chapter 3: What do genetic studies of mental disorders tell us?" Mental Disorders and Genetics: The Ethical Context. 2000. (May 17, 2013)
  • The University of Utah -- Genetic Science Learning Center. "Gene Expression." Aug. 6, 2012. (May 16, 2013)
  • Tsuang, Debby; Faraone, Stephen V.; and Ming T. Tsuang. "Psychiatric Genetic Counseling." American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000. (May 16, 2013)
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Genes: CACNA1C." May 13, 2013. (May 16, 2013)
  • Wein, Harrison. "Common Genetic Factors Found in 5 Mental Disorders." NIH Research Matters. March 18, 2013. (May 16, 2013)
  • Zorumski, Charles. "Demystifying Psychiatry." Psychiatry Today. March 5, 2013. (May 17, 2013)

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