A recent rat study has shown that environmental factors can be key contributors to depression. Genetically modified rats were used to study what role environment can play in depression. In fact the study findings showed that environmental factors could even override any genetic vulnerabilities that the rats had. The rats used were scientifically modified for depression and then bred. The researchers then used the equivalent of psychotherapy for rats and the results were promising. The investigators in the study determined that the therapy actually reduced the depressed behaviors of the rats and the rats in the study also experienced a decrease in depression blood bio markers as well.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor and lead study investigator Dr. Eva Redei explained the link between depression and environmental factors. “The environment can modify a genetic predisposition to depression. If someone has a strong history of depression in her family and is afraid she or her future children will develop depression, our study is reassuring. It suggests that even with a high predisposition for depression, psychotherapy, or behavioral activation therapy can alleviate it.” Redei went on to state “You don’t have people who are completely genetically predisposed to depression the way the rats were. If you can modify depression in these rats, you most certainly should be able to do it in humans. We called it rat psychotherapy because the enrichment allows them to engage with the environment and each other more. They did not show despair. ”