0844 GMT September 23, 2019
The research examined the genetic makeup related to depression and its link with about 900 other diseases. The researchers believe that poor mental health isn’t necessarily caused by serious illnesses; sometimes, it can be the cause behind them, asianage.com wrote.
Genetic epidemiologist Anwar Mulugeta from the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia said, "Data shows that people living with serious mental diseases, like depression, have much higher rates of physical illness than those in the general population."
While depression coupled with another major illness is common, researchers wondered if the root cause of depression could be more directly responsible. Studies in the past have indicated that depression is not just a mental illness; rather, it has effects on the body as well.
The research team studied genomic data of 340,000 people taken from UK Biobank records to figure which comes first. Previous studies have already established the relation between depression and individual illnesses. This new one has established a more causal relationship.
A person with high genetic risk score for major depressive disorder is more likely to get admitted to hospital with or even die due to one of 20 different diseases. These include conditions like esophagitis, asthma, gastroenteritis, urinary system disorders among several others.
"This research puts the 'chicken and egg' conundrum to rest, showing that depression causes disease, rather than only the other way around," said Mulugeta.
"Importantly, this research signals that an individual diagnosed with depression should now also be screened for a defined set of possible comorbidities, enabling much better clinical management and significantly improved outcomes."
However, there’s no concrete material on how genes for depression form the basis of developing other diseases. However, there are a number of gastrointestinal illnesses on the list, so chances are that medication for depression can have severe effects on our guts.
"Understanding the connections between depression and other diseases is critical to ensure people with depression receive the support they require. The more we can look at the individual patient, the better their outcomes are likely to be," said study lead Elina Hypponen, also from the Australian Center for Precision Health.
"Our results suggest that it is important to look beyond the obvious, and that we need to screen and effectively manage depression-related comorbidities if we want to minimize the longer-term negative implications on health."
With depression being a common mental illness all over the world today, the study brings new perspectives on treating depression in a way that doesn’t put us at risk of other illnesses.