mood disorders

Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Circadian Clock Genes

New research shows that depression and bipolar disorder are linked to changes or disruption in circadian genes. Some people carry genetic variants in the circadian genes that make them more susceptible to circadian disruption.

The Interaction Between BDNF and Serotonin

Genetic variants in the BDNF and serotonin receptor genes combine to increase the risk of depression and anxiety. Learn more about BDNF and how these variants interact — and check your genetic data to see how this applies to you.

Dopamine Receptor Genes

Dopamine is a powerful player in our cognitive function – impacting mood, movement, and motivation. Genetic variants in the dopamine receptors influence addiction, ADHD, neurological diseases, depression, psychosis, and aggression.

Opioid Receptors: Turning Off Pain

Genetic variants in the ORPM1 gene impact both the amount of pain someone experiences and their response to opioid drugs. These variants are also important in susceptibility to opiate addiction. (Member’s article)

BDNF variants

BDNF: introversion, stress resilience, cognition, and depression

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that works in the central and peripheral nervous systems to promote nerve function and growth. It also works in the neurons of the brain both in forming neurons and in long-term memory formation.

What is BDNF?

BDNF stands for a brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It is a type of protein called a neurotrophin. BDNF works in several ways:

  • BDNF encourages new neuronal growth from stem cells
  • it protects neurons from injury and cell death
  • it improves neuronal function (important in learning and mood)

In addition to promoting nerve function, BDNF also is involved in neurotransmitter response to dopamine[ref] and serotonin transport.[ref]

As a protein that is essential for neuronal growth, BDNF is vital for neural plasticity and recovery after brain injury.[ref]

Essentially, BDNF is important for good cognition and nervous system function. You want plenty of BDNF to help your neurotransmitters function well.

Can genetic variants cause lower BDNF levels?

Genetic variants can decrease the amount of BDNF that your body normally makes. These variants have been tied to a number of brain and nervous system-related issues.

For example, introversion and an increased risk of depression have been tied in with BDNF variants. Obesity risk is also increased for certain variants.

While genetics plays a role in your baseline BDNF production, lifestyle factors such as food, exercise, and sleep also play a big role in BDNF. Fortunately, there are ways to increase BDNF and mitigate the problems associated with the BDNF gene variants. (Lifehacks section below)

Studies on BDNF levels:

  • Chronic stress causes a decrease in BDNF.[ref]
  • Low BDNF is linked to Alzheimer’s disease[ref] and Parkinson’s[ref][ref]
  • People with depression usually have lower levels of BDNF.[ref][ref][ref]
  • Mothers with postpartum or during pregnancy depression have low BDNF[ref], and older people with depression also have low BDNF.[ref]
  • Low BDNF is linked to obesity.[ref]

BDNF Genetic variants:

Read more

Hacking BDNF for weight loss

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a fascinating growth hormone that performs many functions in our brain. Its involvement helps to support neurons and neuronal growth. In addition, it plays a role in long-term memory — and it also is important in obesity.