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Genetic influences across the age span 

Genetic influences across the age span
Genetic influences across the age span

Edward Shaw

, and Daniel J. Smith

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date: 28 October 2021

Most psychiatric disorders have a genetic component. Mental illness tends to occur as a consequence of the dynamic interaction between genetic vulnerabilities and environmental risk factors. Future advances in public mental health should bear in mind the important role of genetics in determining mental health and well-being. Genetic research raises important ethical considerations. The challenges of discovering genetic risk factors for psychiatric disorders are outlined, along with examples of recent discoveries from large-scale genetic epidemiological research. The focus is on an age span perspective, with consideration of the role of epigenetic processes during development. Discoveries in childhood (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), adulthood (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and older-age (Alzheimer’s disease) are summarized. The public health significance of psychiatric genetics is considered within the context of ongoing global efforts to understand the causes of mental illness and how this might lead to new approaches to diagnosis, classification, and treatment.

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