Rush conducts nationwide study to find genetic markers for depression

The National Institutes of Mental Health has launched the largest psychiatric genetic study ever attempted to investigate how recurrent depression is passed along through families. While depression is known to be genetically transmitted, discovery of the specific genetic sequence would offer new hope for more accurate diagnoses, better treatment, and the possibility for prevention of the disease. Studies have proven that the parents, siblings and children of a person with major depression, which began before age 30, are more likely to have it themselves.

Researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, the only participating center in Chicago, are currently seeking 245 pairs of adult siblings with symptoms of unipolar major depressive disorder (major depression) to participate.

Major depression is a common and disabling illness affecting more than 17 million Americans each year. Symptoms of major depression may include a persistent sad mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy and fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, hopelessness or pessimism, feeling guilty or worthless, irritability and/or excessive crying. Those with the illness may experience episodes consisting of three or four of the above symptoms nearly every day for two weeks or more.

Rush is seeking individuals and siblings with symptoms of major depression for this research study. The depression must be recurrent and one sibling must have had an episode between the ages of 18 and 30, and the other sibling must have had an episode between the ages of 18 and 40. Qualified participants will be interviewed about their history and their family's history, and have a blood sample drawn. Phone interviews and local lab work can be arranged for out-of-town participants. Confidentiality is guaranteed for all those involved, even between family members. Data and blood obtained are identified only by identification number and not

Contact: Julie Smoller
Rush University Medical Center

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