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The British Journal of Psychiatry

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 195  |  Issue: 6  |  Page No.: 504 - 509

Genetic and environmental contributions to depression in Sri Lanka

H. A Ball, A Sumathipala, S. H Siribaddana, Y Kovas, N Glozier, P McGuffin and M. Hotopf

Abstract

Background

Susceptibility to depression results from genetic and non-familially shared environmental influences in high-income, Western countries. Environments may play a different role for populations in different contexts.

Aims

To examine heritability of depression in the first large, population-based twin study in a low-income country.

Method

Lifetime depression and a broader measure of depression susceptibility (D-probe) were assessed in 3908 adult twins in Sri Lanka (the CoTASS study).

Results

There were gender differences for the broad definition (D-probe), with a higher genetic contribution in females (61%) than males (4%). Results were similar for depression, but the prevalence was too low to estimate heritability for males.

Conclusions

Genetic influences on depression in women appear to be at least as strong in this Sri Lankan sample as in higher-income countries. Conclusions are less clear for men but suggest a larger role for environments rather than genes. The nature as well as the magnitude of environmental influences may also differ across populations.

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