Here’s an interesting study showing that there’s a common genetic basis to five common mental health conditions: autism, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disease. In particular, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in two genes involved in calcium-channel activity appear to play a role in all five conditions. This finding was reported in the Journal Lancet by doctors at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
I’ve written about many of these conditions as it relates to obstructive sleep apnea in the past. There have been many published studies showing how damaging lack of oxygen is to the brain, especially in young developing brains. It’s not too far fetched to imagine how brain biochemistry can be radically changed when subjected to poor sleep and hypoxia.
I mentioned in my last post that even one week of insufficient sleep has been found to affect gene expression in areas of chromatin remodeling, regulation of gene expression, and immune and stress responses. Perhaps the common mental health “gene” affects calcium channels as well as to determine the ultimate size of your jaws and upper airway.