Is depression genetic?
We explore how depression and genetics are related.
When a family member close to you is struggling with depression, it’s only natural to question your susceptibility towards the condition. But it’s not only genetics that factor into the evolution of depression, and occasionally the trigger is completely absent.
With the most recent report from Science Daily detailing that 300 million people struggle worldwide with depression, 88 human genes have been identified as contributors to the development of depression.
The fear of inheriting such difficulties from our family members is paramount, but it’s important to note that a human is made up of over 100,000 genome sequences. So possessing a gene that has been linked to depression means you may be more susceptible to the condition, but this doesn’t guarantee you to develop depression.
We can say that the human being is an integration of biological, psychological and social factors; the biological factor is your individual character and genetic code: the psychological refers to your thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and finally, the sociological factors include economical, cultural and environmental elements.
These factors participate in some degree to the presence or absence of a mental health condition. But if you’re worried about the determining factors of genetics when it comes to depression, it’s important to acknowledge the whole picture.
Consider the following:
1. The biological, psychological and sociological factors
You may have a genetic predisposition to depression, however, you may also have a protective, social support network and a balanced self-esteem, the ‘protective’ factors. These protective factors play a huge importance in establishing a balance with your genetic factors.
2. The power of the protective factors
If you experience symptoms of depression or are diagnosed with depression, the more protective elements you have access to and surround yourself with, the higher the chance of you overcoming this illness. The protective factors often offer a friend to listen to your worries, a family network to support your recovery and caring people to re-establish your past hobbies and passions.
3. Coping mechanisms
If you feel you are susceptible to mental illness, and have the ability to put measures in place as your ‘coping mechanism’, start small to equip yourself should you ever develop depression or mental ill-health. Taking 10 minutes a day to practice meditation or a simple yoga sequence can offer tranquility from the everyday. It’s important to recognise what works for you as a coping mechanism and how you can use this method should you develop mental ill-health.
4. Recognise what is under your control
As a person absent of mental ill-health, ascertain what is under you control and what isn’t; how you order your thoughts, your natural emotions and reactions and future interactions. The ability to develop these feeling and acts lies within, as does the ability to control them.
Finally, if you recgonise that your emotions, thoughts and behaviours don't feel right over a prolonged period; if they’ve started or have affected your professional, personal, family, social and physical wellbeing, seek help from a trained professional.
Genetics 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, so remember to recognise all factors.
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