Research Proposal: Depression as Hereditary
According to LeWine (2013), “Five seemingly different mental health disorders—major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—may be more alike than we think.” He attests that “a handful of genes” are shared by people who have these disorders suggesting that these disorders, including depression are genetic and thus, hereditary. DNA analysis of 33,000 people from 19 countries by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium in 2007 as published in ‘The Lancet’ by Smoller and his co researches is LeWine’s basis for this position. But while the statistical and genomics study provides a quantitative lens to the issue, it is possible to assess this position from a practical viewpoint in a descriptive and qualitative manner. I propose testing this position through grounded theory – a bottom up approach based on a contextual study of a group of people who have been, or are currently under therapy for depression.
Problem Statement & Rationale
Is depression hereditary? Can genetics be blamed for the condition of depression in people? While the study by Smoller & Co. (2007) and the work of LeWine and his Harvard Team based their conclusions on in-depth global genomics study, I would like to explore their position via a practicable exercise closer to home and on a much observable scale. If access to a group of individuals under treatment or having done previous treatment on depression can be arranged, through interviews that can lead to family history disclosures, it is possible to test the conclusions of the genomics research from a qualitative viewpoint. This can further determine the contextual application of the genomics research which can help in furthering treatment and therapy for depression through an in-depth understanding of likely tendencies and possible triggers.
Objectives & Hypothesis
The Genomics research drew data from 19 countries and tens of thousands of volunteers. Their study cut through race and cultures, focusing on the genes alone. This for me is the ‘hardware’ determination, if genes are the hardware that we operate from as human beings. Emotions – and disorders related to them can also be traced back to genetics. My objective is to observe the phenomenon as expressed in the cases of depression patients to determine the expression of the genetic tendencies in a social environment and the in the individuals who have succumbed to, or suffer from the condition. Is there a history of depression present in their familial background? If so, it can be determined thus that in their context, at least, LeWine and Smollers are right. I hypothesize therefore that in patients diagnosed with depression, family history will show that the disorder has been expressed or was present in terms of symptoms previously displayed or as applied to the history of certain family members.
Terms & Summary
There are a number of terms that can be included in the research. The following are only a starting point and can expand in the course of the study:
1. Depression – persistence of low moods from acute to severe that can impact and interfere with everyday activities.
2. Mental illness – medical condition that disrupt thinking, feeling, mood and abilities to relate to people leading to interference with daily and long-term functions.
3. Genetics – the study of trait inheritance from parents to offspring through the molecular structure and function of genes.
4. Genomics – a genetics discipline that analyzes functions of genomes and genetic structures including DNA sequencing and genetic mapping to understand and map genetic function.
5. Family history – a genealogical study of families and tracing their lineage to obtain information of kinship and pedigrees.
6. Therapy – the attempt to remediate a health problem after diagnosis
7. Counseling – a form of therapy
8. Grounded theory – a ‘ground up’ method of studying a phenomenon in qualitative studies
9. Interview – a conversation between 2 or more people where an interviewer asks individuals questions to elicit answers from them
10. Disclosure – providing opinion or insights about the world or about one’s experience
1. Faris, S. (2012). Is Depression Genetic? Healthline. URL: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/genetic
2. LeWine, H. (2013). Shared genes link depression, schizophrenia, and three other mental illnesses. Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Medical School. URL: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/shared-genes-link-depression-schizophrenia-and-three-other-mental-illnesses-201303015944
3. Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (2013). Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis. The Lancet – 20 April 2013, Vol. 381, Issue 9875, Pages 1371-1379. URL: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)62129-1/abstract
Method, Participants, Research Design, Instrumentation, and Data Collection Plans. (Estimated length – two
Method/Research Procedure/Methodology: Determine the method of research for the proposal.
Examples could be: qualitative, quantitative, and case study.
Participants: Provide specific identification for the proposed participants for the study. Include a
description, the possible number within the population, the proposed location, and the selection
procedure. Be specific when identifying the selection process. Then identify how a representative
sample will be drawn from the population. (half page)
Research Design: Determine how to conduct the data collection and the proposed analysis.
Instrumentation and Data Collection Plans: State the sources and/or instrument(s) proposed to be
used to record the data (surveys, interview protocols). Identify the procedure. For a mailed
survey, identify steps to be taken in administering and following up the survey to obtain a high
response rate. Determine how to specifically conduct the research based on the proposed
sample.( half page)
Proposed Analysis of the Data. (Estimated length – one to two pages)
Identify what results are expected from the sample. Identify how the categories of responses will be
determined and analyzed. Address specifically what the proposed results could infer back to the
population. Answer the following questions:
What variables will be included in the analyses?
Identify the dependent and independent variables if such a relationship exists.
What is the decision making criteria (e.g., the critical alpha level)?
Will computer software be used in the analysis? If so, identify what will be used.
Explain how to assess the validity of the measurement.
Explain how to measure the reliability of the variables.