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Anxiety disorders may have a genetic cause

Anxiety disorders may have a genetic cause

Anxiety and related disorders, which are the most common psychiatric disorders, may be caused due to an abnormality in a gene, according to a recent Spanish study. The research team led by a geneticist and a psychiatrist has found that anxiety disorders such as panic attack and agoraphobia may be caused due to mutation in a gene in the 15th chromosome. The affected region of the chromosome is known as DUP25. The region on the chromosome where this gene is present seems to be duplicated in people suffering from anxiety related disorders. The study was conducted on 93 individuals who were suffering from some form of anxiety disorder. 72% of these patients had a replication of the gene. All the patients who had panic attacks seemed to carry this extra gene. The specific gene that seemed to be over expressed in these patients was NTRK3. This gene is normally responsible for a behavioural response to external stimuli. When it gets over expressed, the response to the same stimuli becomes exaggerated causing panic attacks. Psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia are known to be inherited; children whose parents or either one of them is schizophrenic are at an increased risk of having the condition themselves. However, there has been no systematic research to prove the same for other psychiatric disorders. Most psychiatric illnesses are known to be caused due to some innate abnormality which gets aggravated due to environmental circumstances. However, there has been no concrete evidence for a genetic cause for psychiatric illnesses. The identification of a particular gene in this regard may be helpful in future research and a possible medical treatment targeted at reducing the effect of the gene.
BMJ 2001;323:360
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