Experiential and genetic contributions to depressive- and anxiety-like disorders: Clinical and experimental studies

Hymie Anisman, Zul Merali, John D.H. Stead

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Stressful events have been implicated in the precipitation of depression and anxiety. These disorders may evolve owing to one or more of an array of neuronal changes that occur in several brain regions. It seems likely that these stressor-provoked neurochemical alterations are moderated by genetic determinants, as well as by a constellation of experiential and environmental factors. Indeed, animal studies have shown that vulnerability to depressive-like behaviors involve mechanisms similar to those associated with human depression (e.g., altered serotonin, corticotropin releasing hormone and their receptors, growth factors), and that the effects of stressors are influenced by previous stressor experiences, particularly those encountered early in life. These stressor effects might reflect sensitization of neuronal functioning, phenotypic changes of processes that lead to neurochemical release or receptor sensitivity, or epigenetic processes that modify expression of specific genes associated with stressor reactivity. It is suggested that depression is a life-long disorder, which even after effective treatment, has a high rate of re-occurrence owing to sensitized processes or epigenetic factors that promote persistent alterations of gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1206
Number of pages22
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • BDNF
  • CRH
  • Depression
  • Epigenetic
  • Genetic
  • Serotonin
  • Stress


Dive into the research topics of 'Experiential and genetic contributions to depressive- and anxiety-like disorders: Clinical and experimental studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this