The perceived and predicted implications of psychiatric genetic knowledge among persons with multiple cases of depression in the family

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2010 Dec;122(6):470-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2010.01555.x.


Objective: Psychiatric genetic research raises hope regarding better treatment and prevention, but also regarding a possible de-stigmatizing effect of attributing mental illness to genetics. This study explores i) the impact on family relations of participating in a genetic study; ii) the impact of biogenetic attributions on perceptions of depression and stigma and iii) the perceived benefits and concerns regarding psychiatric genetic testing.

Method: Focus groups were conducted with 17 participants suffering from depression, with multiple cases of depression in the family, and previously participating in a genetic study.

Results: Participating in a genetic study caused more openness about depression in most families. A biogenetic explanation of depression was perceived as having the potential of diminishing self stigma. Testing of self and children was widely accepted, whereas prenatal testing raised concern.

Conclusion: Persons suffering from depression may benefit from endorsing a biogenetic explanation, especially in relation to self-understanding and self-stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Stereotyping