As one of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S, it’s understandable that questions have been asked as to whether genetics may play a role in determining who suffers from depression. If you have depression, you might be worried that you’ll pass it on to your kids, or if one of your parents is depressed, you may be concerned that you’ll inherit it from them.
Anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity or background can suffer from depression, and statistics show that one in six of us will likely suffer from it; research has also shown that genetic factors may contribute to the risk of a person developing the condition. That said, research is in its early stages, and there is still much more that scientists need to learn about depression and its origins. What we do know, though, is that several factors can play a role in whether an individual develops depression.
Factors that may cause depression:
A person with a parent or sibling who suffers from depression has shown to be two to three times more likely to develop the condition, but studies have also shown that many individuals who do not have a family history depression, may still develop the condition. The pattern isn’t clear by any means, but what is clear is that several different factors can cause a mental illness like depression, and these include biological, psychological and social.
Depression and biological, psychological and social factors:
Some people inherit the predisposition to depression, meaning that biology has played a distinct part in determining whether they may go on to suffer from the condition. The BSP or biopsychosocial model studies such things as genetic vulnerability, physical health and how gender affects our mood. When studying the psychological factors, self-esteem, coping skills and emotionality are accounted for, while the social component focuses on family circumstances, socioeconomic status and education level to name but a few. All these factors may contribute to the likelihood of an individual developing depression.
How family history can contribute in a non-genetic way:
A child who has a parent with depression may spend years watching them struggling to cope and may pick up on their negative emotions and pessimistic outlook, something that is a proven risk factor for depression.
Since we know that even if genetics don’t necessarily play a role in depression, family history can, it’s important to be mindful of your own thought processes and state of mind if you have a family member with the condition. Recognizing if your own mood has begun to alter, is vital if you want to catch the early warning signs of a mental illness like depression. Also, take note of how any family members with depression were treated and how it worked for them. This can be extremely useful when you’re talking to a medical or mental health professional about your state of mind and can help them determine what treatment might work best for you.
There are many factors that can contribute towards a person developing depression, but if you’re worried that you may have the condition and need help with a diagnosis, speak to a medical professional who can schedule an assessment and help you get back to feeling like your old self again.
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