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Genetic Architecture of Youth Anxiety
About The GAYA Study
Anxiety disorders can significantly interfere with youth's lives, so it is important to better understand how and why these disorders develop. To better understand the development of anxiety disorders among youth, we need to include larger samples of youth in current genetic research. We therefore aim to conduct the “Genetic Architecture of Youth Anxiety (GAYA)” study. The GAYA study represents a Pan-Canadian effort of clinical and genetic experts with specific recruitment sites at Calgary, Halifax, Hamilton, Toronto, and Halifax.
We aim to identify genetic risks for anxiety disorders in youth and assess how much of this genetic risk is shared between youth and adults. We will also explore whether youth with a higher genetic risk respond worse to treatment and will need additional support. A better understanding of the genetic risk factors for anxiety disorders could potentially lead to early detection, better treatments, and improved outcomes for Canadian youth. With this information we hope to improve our understanding of and our ability to help children with common mental health and medical conditions.
Why is GAYA Important?
Anxiety is the most common mental health problem among youth, with about 11% of Canadian youth suffering from an anxiety disorder annually. Over the last three decades, a steep increase in the prevalence of anxiety disorders has been observed. This trend is likely to continue, especially in light of the recent pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Are Genes? How Are They Relevant?
Genes are the building blocks of the human body. They help decide all the different characteristics that make people unique. For example, they help decide our hair colour, how tall we are, and even how we think and behave. This study aims to learn about how genes can lead to anxiety in youth.
Genetic factors play an important role in the development of anxiety disorders. Recent studies successfully identified the first genetic risks for anxiety disorders in adults. However, these genetic risks for anxiety may not be same for youth as for adults.
Q: Are There Any Risks from the GAYA Study?
Answering questions on mental well-being may make you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t like some of the questions, you have the option to skip these questions.
You may experience minimal discomfort (dry mouth) while you give us a spit sample. Your genetic information can never be fully de-identified. But, as technology is so rapidly advancing in genetics, there may be a risk that the genetic information in the samples could be linked back to you. While this is very unlikely at this time, such a link back to you may be more likely in the future.
Q: What Does The GAYA Study Involve?
Participants in the GAYA study will complete questionnaires online, provide a DNA sample, and play two phone games on the GAYA app. In case you are taking part online, we will invite you to meet with us to provide the spit sample or we might send you a kit that you can send back to us. Overall, you will be able to complete the study in less than 45 minutes. Youth may also be offered an online intervention.
For more information on the study process, please refer to gaya-study.info