The discovery of the NPAS4 gene’s role in connecting long-term stress to depressive behaviors, as found by a team of scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina, could lead to better targeted treatments for depression resulting from chronic stress. The gene was needed for long-term stress to produce a loss of interest in activities that were once rewarding or pleasurable, known as anhedonia. However, this gene did not play a role in other common depressive-like symptoms. Targeting specific symptoms, rather than diagnosis-level treatment, could provide more effective, personalized treatments for people with mental health disorders. The finding that different symptoms emerge in different people struggling with depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorder, and schizophrenia, paves the way for precision medicine approaches to treat specific symptoms in individuals.
Dr Emily Grace Cooper, MD, Cure of Mind