Natural born pessimist: Some people are genetically programmed to be depressed, scientists say

It’s a sombre thought, but it seems some of us are born more likely to be a pessimist.

People who are genetically predisposed to produce lower amounts of a brain chemical that regulates appetite and stress are at a higher risk of severe depression, scientists said.

Those lacking in the brain molecule neuropeptide Y (NPY) have ‘measurably stronger brain responses to negative stimuli and psychological responses to physical pain’ and are also ‘over-represented in a population diagnosed with a major depressive disorder’.

The findings could eventually help with early diagnosis and intervention for depression and other psychiatric illnesses, researchers at the University of Michigan said.

They could also assist in developing therapies that can be tailored to individuals based on their genetic profiles.

Dr Jon-Kar Zubieta, one of thestudy’s authors, said: ‘We’ve identified a biomarker – in this case genetic variation – that is linked with increased risk of major depression.

‘This appears to be another mechanism, independent of previous targets in depression research, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.’

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