Saturday, January 26, 2008

the worry gene

From a recent WALL STREET JOURNAL (17 January 2008, p.D1):

Researchers at Yale have identified a gene mutation for "rumination" -- the kind of chronic worry in which people obsess over negative thoughts. It's a variation of a gene known as BDNF that's active in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in thinking and memory. In a study of 200 mothers and daughters published in the journal Neuroscience Letters last month, the Yale scientists found that those who had been depressed in their youth were more likely to be ruminators and to have this particular variation of BDNF.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that depression involves an inability to control negative thoughts, not just excess emotion, says psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, one of the Yale investigators. And just because rumination has genetic roots doesn't mean it's inescapable, she says. "People can learn to stop these thought processes and have better emotional health."

People can be trained to control or manage these negative thoughts. "Renewing the mind" (Romans 12:2) is not easy and isn't perfect, but it can help. Yeah, I've written here or there about this before.

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