Research has found that five conditions, previously thought to be clinically different, share a common genetic root. The conditions in common are autism, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression.
Dr. Jordan Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston led the study, publishing findings in the journal Lancet.
This finding covers only one small portion of the makeup of mental illness (it is thought that they involve hundreds of different genes) and does not explain every single case of mental illness. At the same time, it is groundbreaking information and suggested on a genetic level that,
The five diseases are more like a continuum of dysfunction than five separate and discrete conditions.
Researchers say this could explain why many people have series of symptoms that do not easily fall into one of the specific diagnoses.
Smoller’s team did a genome study of 33,000 psychiatric patients and compared them to nearly 28,000 people without mental illness.
The research also seems to explain why some people have overlapping symptoms, or why in families prone to one psychiatric disease another might occur.
Not only will this research help in our understanding of mental illness, it could also benefit the treatment of mental illness, including the development of psychiatric medications.
For more information, check out Mental Illness Share common DNA roots over at nbc news.