Department of Economics and Business Economics

Cohort profile: the Australian genetics of depression study

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  • Enda M Byrne, University of Queensland
  • ,
  • Katherine M Kirk, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • ,
  • Sarah E Medland, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • ,
  • John J McGrath
  • Lucia Colodro-Conde, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • ,
  • Richard Parker, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • ,
  • Simone Cross, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • ,
  • Lenore Sullivan, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • ,
  • Dixie J Statham, Federation University Australia
  • ,
  • Douglas F Levinson, Stanford University
  • ,
  • Julio Licinio, State University of New York Upstate Medical University
  • ,
  • Naomi R Wray, University of Queensland
  • ,
  • Ian B Hickie, The University of Sydney, Sydney
  • ,
  • Nicholas G Martin, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

PURPOSE: Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder and the largest contributor to global disability. The Australian Genetics of Depression study was established to recruit a large cohort of individuals who have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime. The purpose of establishing this cohort is to investigate genetic and environmental risk factors for depression and response to commonly prescribed antidepressants.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 20 689 participants were recruited through the Australian Department of Human Services and a media campaign, 75% of whom were female. The average age of participants was 43 years±15 years. Participants completed an online questionnaire that consisted of a compulsory module that assessed self-reported psychiatric history, clinical depression using the Composite Interview Diagnostic Interview Short Form and experiences of using commonly prescribed antidepressants. Further voluntary modules assessed a wide range of traits of relevance to psychopathology. Participants who reported they were willing to provide a DNA sample (75%) were sent a saliva kit in the mail.

FINDINGS TO DATE: 95% of participants reported being given a diagnosis of depression by a medical practitioner and 88% met the criteria for a lifetime depressive episode. 68% of the sample report having been diagnosed with another psychiatric disorder in addition to depression. In line with findings from clinical trials, only 33% of the sample report responding well to the first antidepressant they were prescribed.

FUTURE PLANS: A number of analyses to investigate the genetic architecture of depression and common comorbidities will be conducted. The cohort will contribute to the global effort to identify genetic variants that increase risk to depression. Furthermore, a thorough investigation of genetic and psychosocial predictors of antidepressant response and side effects is planned.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere032580
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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