Do we inherit depression?

Do we inherit depression?

Do we inherit depression?  Are we doomed if family members are plagued with depression? The answer is no. While there is an inherited tendency towards depression, it isn’t written in stone. I’m sure most of you have heard about the famous twins study.

In case you haven’t, here it is. A group of identical twins with family histories of depression revealed what seems at first to be disheartening. Approximately two-thirds of the pairs studied, both sets of twins developed depressive disorders even though raised apart. Sounds like a done deal, huh? But it isn’t.

One-third of the twins studied did NOT develop depression. If mood disorders are inherited, what about that one-third? What’s the conclusion? The conclusion is that the illness itself isn’t inherited, only the predisposition to the illness is inherited. That means that when certain other contributing factors are present you are more likely to develop depression than someone who doesn’t have this proclivity in their background.   Tendencies for many conditions are inherited. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, alcoholism, headaches, overweight-the list goes on. Somehow though, we place more weight on the inherited part when it’s depression we’re talking about.

The evidence is ample that some people are more susceptible to depression than others due to biological and psychological conditions. But it’s not destiny. My favorite saying:

“Statistics are NOT destiny”. ( I hate most popular jargon but this one I love.)

It’s been proven true time and again. It only matters that you know your family history so you’ll make necessary corrections in your life when you see the danger signals. And (this is so important.) if you pay attention to the unhealthy behaviors and thinking that depressed members of your family display (their psychology), you can decide not to engage in those behaviors yourself. But even if your family does have a history of depression as mine does, remember in the long run, it doesn’t matter what caused your depression; it only matters that you learn to overcome it.

One piece of information that you might want to pay close attention to if you are female is this. According to the research on depression, daughters raised by alcoholic fathers (darn, it’s me again), run an extremely high risk of becoming depressed as adults. I’ve been there and back. Survived. And am here to tell you, it’s not a death sentence.

So the next time you read the statistics, don’t panic. You can be another kind of statistic. You can be the exception. God bless.