Hereditary Depression - Discussion

What is hereditary depression? Studies indicate that one of the major risk factors of being depressed is family history of the condition. Research also suggests that certain types of depression, such as manic depression or bipolar disorder, are genetic in etiology; however, it is still unclear if the other forms and types of depression are genetic in origin, too.

The fact is, since depression directly impacts the behavior, thoughts and moods of the individual, it is easy to see why it can be passed down in families.

Other research also indicates that if a woman is depressed or anxious during pregnancy, it is likely that the child will inherit these tendencies from the mother. Hence, it is very important to detect and treat depression during pregnancy.

Outside of this, depression can be triggered due to a number of other factors as well, such as abuse, loss of a loved one, traumatic experiences, chemical imbalance, genetics, etc. While it can be important and certainly useful, from a treatment perspective, to understand and determine the link between physical causes of depression and whether it is hereditary depression or not, this is clearly not an easy assessment to make.

As mentioned earlier, evidence suggests that certain types of depression, such as manic depression or bipolar disorder, do have hereditary or genetic basis. However, at the same time, depression can also be triggered by co-morbidity, i.e. by an existing medical ailment, and a host of other factors.

Hence, bearing in mind all possible factors and causes, it is not always possible to categorically state that depression is a hereditary disorder. Sometimes it may be, but most times, it is not. In discussing the whole idea of hereditary depression, we can parallel the condition with many other illnesses and health conditions.

While there is usually a genetic or hereditary element - meaning, some people are more susceptible to a certain disease because of their genetic disposition, it is usually the case that environmental factors play a greater role. In other words, the influence of "nurture" is as great as, and most likely greater than, "nature".

For example, hypothetically, say a hundred people have the exact same genetic disposition. If they all embark on very different dietary and lifestyle habits, for example smoking versus not smoking; alcohol drinking versus being alcohol-free; a diet of processed foods versus a diet of clean, fresh organic foods; regular exercise versus a sedentary lifestyle; a stressful life versus a relaxed life; many traumatic emotional experiences versus a relatively smooth-sailing life; fresh air versus polluted air; eating moderately versus frequent overeating; etc, the health and disease outcomes will be very different.

Let us talk about cancer for a bit. Some say it is genetic. But, one or two hundred years ago, the cancer rates were very low indeed. Today, they are skyrocketing. Why? Have "cancer genes" suddenly appeared? Of course not - this is an environmental, lifestyle and dietary issue.

Similarly, depression rates and statistics worldwide are escalating. Can it be all down to hereditary depression? Have "depression genes" suddenly appeared too? Again, of course not! This trend has emerged largely because modern life is fast, stressful, lonely and often alienating.

Yes, genes definitely do play a part in making someone more susceptible or vulnerable to something. But, at the end of the day, it is external factors which cause the full-blown development of any health or mental condition. This is a very important point to bear in mind when discussing the idea of hereditary depression.

Genes and family history do play a part, but they are only a limited part of the whole picture, and definitely not the whole picture itself.






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