Five major mental illnesses — depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia and autism — are traceable to the same inherited genetic variations, according to the largest genome-wide study of its kind. These variations account for 17-28 percent of mental illness risk.
The study revealed that the overlap is highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; moderate for bipolar and depression, and for ADHD and depression; and low between schizophrenia and depression.
The new evidence linking schizophrenia and depression, if replicated, could have important implications for diagnostics and research, say the researchers. They expected to see more overlap between ADHD and autism, but the modest schizophrenia-autism connection is consistent with other emerging evidence.
The findings still leave much of the likely inherited genetic contribution to the disorders unexplained – and especially the non-inherited genetic factors. For example, common genetic variation accounted for 23 percent of schizophrenia, but evidence from twin and family studies estimate its total heritability at 81 percent.
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