Variation in a single gene may explain why some people weather stressful events while others are plunged into depression, say scientists.

The gene, which encodes a protein called 5-HTT, reveals its influence when people experience divorce, debt, unemployment or other occasions of "threat, loss, humiliation or defeat", Terrie Moffitt of King's College London and her colleagues have shown. They studied nearly 850 New Zealanders taking part in an ongoing health study1.

People carrying two short forms of the 5-HTT gene had a 43% chance of becoming clinically depressed after four or more stressful events experienced between the ages of 21 and 26. This compares with 17% of those with two long ones...(cont'd)

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