My mum has depression. Will I get depression too?
Your question is of vital importance and one that many people often ask when facing mental health issues. The fear of inheriting such difficulties from our family members is sometimes confused with an assurance of the fact, but this is clearly not always the case.
We can say that the human being is an integration of biological, psychological and social factors. Think of the biological as your organic self expressed by your genetic code. The psychological refers to your thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Finally, the sociological factors include economical, cultural and environmental elements.
All the factors labeled above play an important role when considering the individual. All of these elements participate and determine, up to some degree, the presence or absence of a mental health disorder.
Consider the following:
1. Biological, psychological and sociological factors can act either as predisposing or protecting elements
For example, you might have a genetic disposition to depression; however, if you have a great social support network and a balanced self esteem, you have more protective factors that could, but not necessarily outweigh the genetic ones.
2. Protective factors are always important
Even if you ever experience symptoms of depression or are diagnosed with depression, the more protective elements you have the better your chances of overcoming this mental illness.
Tip: surround yourself with people that make you have a good time, laugh and that share your passions or hobbies; also, try to practice meditation, yoga and do exercise daily.
3. We don't know up to what extent genes contribute to the development of depression or other mental issues
Tip: remember, genetics is only one component of your holistic self.
4. Live your life recognising what's under your control and what's not
Note: thoughts, emotions and behaviours as well as who you choose to interact with, are factors that you can control.
5. Recognise when you need to seek assistance from a mental health professional
Tip: seek assistance if you ever feel that your emotions, thoughts and behaviours often don't feel right, if you are having a hard time coping with them and most especially if they have started or have affected your professional, personal, family, social and physical wellbeing.
Remember, genes are not the only factor to take into consideration when depression or other mental illnesses become present in you or others. You are not necessarily destined to suffer depression just because a family member does.
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