Is Depression Hereditary?

Depression is a serious mood disorder that can impact every single area of an individual’s life.  Here in New York City we see depression caused by many external factors.  The question has always remained whether or not depression runs in families from one generation to the next. Studies have shown that a child who has parents who are depressed is two to three times more likely to be depressed themselves.  In fact, there’s a forty percent chance that someone suffering from depression can trace it to a member of their family.  

Depression runs in families just like allergies, blood pressure and cancer.  Not everyone in a family needs have suffered with depression to make it a factor in your own depression.  Your uncle, grandmother or sister may have depression while everyone else does not.  Even with the same genetic pool, certain factors for depression are not necessarily found in all family members.  Additionally personality and life events can have a significant impact on if and how depression can manifest.

Members of your family who have struggled with depression may enable you to better understand the signs and symptoms.  Knowing what to look for can spur you on to get help before depression starts to cause significant problems in your life.  However, if there is depression in your family that caused serious problems, you may feel scared about acknowledging your own depression.  Maybe you feel a bit blue one day but do not think it is as bad as your father who stayed in bed for weeks on end.  You decide not to check in with your therapist (or find one).  So, it continues and you struggle.

If you know that it’s possible for the feelings of depression to originate from within you, know that it is never too early to learn ways to manage the stressors that trigger depression.  Practicing techniques such as breathing, meditating as well as finding ways for support will help you feel like you have some sense of control over slipping in to a depressed state.  

When you are depressed, a therapist can make the difference by helping you learn to manage your depression or struggling with it.  I am always available to help you and your loved ones deal with depression to enable you to live as full a life as is uniquely possible for you.


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