London | Tend to be more anxious, angry or envious than others? You might want to blame your genes! According to an international research led by the University of Glasgow, Neuroticism — a personality trait related to depression, anxiety and even heart disease — can be linked to nine new distinct gene-associations.
The study, published today in journal Molecular Psychiatry, included researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Cardiff and Queensland, Australia and was co-led by Professor Daniel Smith from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing. The existence of these genetic associations could indicate a person’s predisposition to neuroticism.
The authors focused on neuroticism as it is the personality trait most closely associated with mental illness and physical health problems. People who have high levels of neuroticism tend toward depression and anxiety. They also tend to have worse physical health, with links to conditions such as obesity and heart disease.
The research represents the largest genetic study of a personality trait ever undertaken, and improves the understanding of people’s personality differences, and why some are more predisposed to mental health problems than others.
The study tested more than 100,000 individuals from the UK Biobank cohort, the Generation Scotland sample and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research sample. The work could open new avenues for future research and for identification of new treatment approaches for depression and anxiety, Smith said.
It is a first step to understanding the biology and genetic basis of a persons vulnerability to depression and anxiety, he said. Professor Ian Deary from the University of Edinburgh, said, These new results are, at last, a start for our understanding the biological mechanisms that predispose some people to generally feel more anxious and low in mood than others.
It will be important for future work to uncover how these genetic links affect brain function, and to pin down whether they increase someone’s chance of developing clinical depression, Dr Raliza Stoyanova, Neuroscience & Mental Health Senior P ortfolio Developer at the Wellcome Trust said.