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The genes that depress you may also make you happy

Research by Professors Elaine Fox, from Oxford University, and Chris Beevers, from the University of Texas at Austin, sheds new light on our state of mind. Contrary to what is generally believed, there is no gen that “causes” mental illness. Instead, they suggest, the same genes respond differently to variations in the environment. “If you take a gene that is linked to mental illness, and compare people who have the same genetic variant, it becomes clear that what happens to their mental health is based on their environment,” Professor Fox said. “We suggest that while no gene ‘causes’ mental ill health, some genes can make people more sensitive to the effects of their environment—for better and for worse.” This means that anyone with those genes, who is in a negative environment, will have a propensity for mental disorders. By the same token, those very same genes would contribute to a vigorous, or happy, outlook if you are in a supportive environment.

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