10% of children (5-16) in Great Britain have a mental disorder of some kind including conduct disorder, emotional disorder or hyperactivity, and adolescence is a critical period for the development of depression.
Researchers are only beginning to understand what causes mental health problems, and it is thought that both genetic and environmental factors have a role. In a new piece of research to be published in PLoS ONE, scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered an interaction between a key gene and early childhood adversity and find this leads to emotional processing deficits that are later associated with diagnoses of anxiety and depression. Although this is a preliminary piece of work, the findings could lead to the development of an inexpensive tool to screen children and adolescents for common emotional mental health diseases.
Authors came to the Science Media Centre to answer questions including:
Prof Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, University of Cambridge
Prof Ian Goodyer, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cambridge