Researchers are calling for 40,000 people with depression or anxiety in England to join an online study hoping to explore any genetic links to these conditions.

The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study, which is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is looking for participants aged 16 or over who have experienced either depression or anxiety at some point in their life, in the hope of increasing understanding of these disorders and improving the lives of future patients.

Participants will simply need to complete a short survey and provide a DNA sample (from saliva), the researchers said.

GLAD will also provide a ‘pool’ of potential participants for future studies on the genetic aspects of these two conditions “and reduce the time-consuming process of recruiting patients for research”.

Sixty-six genetic links for depression and anxiety have already been identified, said study lead Dr Gerome Breen, Reader of Neuropsychiatric & Translational Genetics, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, IoPPN, King’s College London.

“By recruiting 40,000 volunteers willing to be re-contacted for research, the GLAD Study will take us further than ever before. It will allow researchers to solve the big unanswered questions, address how genes and environment act together and help develop new treatment options.”

“Only through further research into the root causes of anxiety and depression can we hope to achieve the same breakthroughs that have been seen with other physical conditions,” added Dr Sophie Dix, director of research at the charity MQ, which advocates for more research into mental health conditions.

“Our dream is a world where people can achieve full control of their mental health conditions, and where treatments are personalised to work for them. We encourage anyone living with depression or anxiety who shares this vision to enrol.”