Searching for answers to causes of childhood depression

1 min read

Over the past decade, scientists have produced a flurry of studies exploring the role of genetic (nature) and environmental factors (nurture) in youth depression, but there has been little consensus on how depression is jointly impacted by specific genes and external factors, such as poverty, abuse, and negative family relationships.

The lack of a clear understanding of how genes and environments both contribute to childhood depression led Erin Dunn, postdoctoral research fellow and recent graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and her colleagues to do a comprehensive review of studies that tested for gene-environment interaction in youth depression. Their goal was to systematically identify these studies, examine the methods used, and summarize findings to guide future studies. The review was published December, 2011 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (JCPP). Read the abstract.

Dunn, a former Richmond Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, has had a longstanding interest in children’s mental health ever since teaching in early childhood and elementary school settings, where she saw students with a variety of mental health issues.