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Researchers Discover Genes Associated with Happiness, Depression and Neuroticism

Apr 21, 2016 09:25 AM EDT

Environmental factors are not the only things affecting how people think and feel about their lives. Genes also play a major part in the total well-being of a person. With this in mind, a multinational team of researchers has recently found genetic variants that are associated with people's feelings of well-being, depression and neuroticism.

Genomic data from nearly 300,000 people were analyzed by a team of researchers consisting of 190 specialists from 140 institutions in 17 countries. This study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, is considered to be one of the largest studies on the genes involving human behavior.

After careful application of advanced statistical analyses and meta-analyzed results across the large number of studies, researchers identified three genetic variants associated with subjective well-being, or how happy a person thinks and feels about his life. They have also discovered two gene variants linked with depressive symptoms and 11 variants associated with neuroticism, a personality trait characterized by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy and loneliness.

Even though they have been successful in discovering these genes associated with the feelings of well-being, depression and neuroticism, researchers noted in their press release that these genetic variants do not determine whether someone will develop a poor sense of well-being, depressive symptoms or neuroticism.

"Genetics is only one factor that influences these psychological traits. The environment is at least as important, and it interacts with the genetic effects," Dr. Daniel Benjamin, associate professor at the Center for Economic and Social Research in the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and corresponding author, said in a statement.

With that said, researchers find this study very significant in determining why some people are biologically predisposed to feel this way.

In a recent study, researchers also associated genes with early virginity loss and number of children a person will have.

Overall, genes play a crucial part for the better biological understanding of human behavior.

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