Major depression is the commonest psychiatric disorder and in the U.S. has the greatest impact of all biomedical diseases on disability. Here we review evidence of the genetic contribution to disease susceptibility and the current state of molecular approaches. Genome-wide association and linkage results provide constraints on the allele frequencies and effect sizes of susceptibility loci, which we use to interpret the voluminous candidate gene literature. We consider evidence for the genetic heterogeneity of the disorder and the likelihood that subtypes exist that represent more genetically homogenous conditions than have hitherto been analyzed.
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