Are Depression and Anxiety Hereditary?

Have you ever taken a good hard look at someone in your family and thought, “Hmm, I wonder if that’s where I get my nervous tendencies from?”

Many people with depression or anxiety experience that double-take kind of moment at some point in life, where they begin to connect the dots – at least the supposed dots.

You likely already know that depression and anxiety are both mental illnesses, but the question is, do they run in families…like diabetes and heart conditions can? Also, if you have a family member who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, does it mean you will get them too?

​What the research says…

In recent years, doctors have been trying to understand whether these mental health conditions can be passed down from parent to child. Studies of twins suggest that anxiety and depression may be inherent in nature. Identical twins have the same set of genes, while fraternal twins share only half their gene pool, which can explain why identical twins are more likely to both have anxiety or depression than fraternal twins.

​Despite what we now understand about the hereditary nature of depression and anxiety, doctors don’t know which gene(s) cause these conditions, making it difficult to explain how they are passed down through genes. That said, different combinations of genes can make you more likely to develop anxiety or depression

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What About Other Factors?

Of course, genetics isn’t the only plausible explanation for what causes depression or anxiety or their links within a family. Your personal experiences, lifestyle, and environment can also play significant roles, as they do in most other medical conditions.

This makes sense when we consider how in cases where someone develops one of these conditions before age 20, it is most likely due to their genetic risk. On the other hand, those who develop depression or anxiety later in life are more likely to have developed it from these other factors.

All that said, families tend to share many of these same factors, so it’s tricky to know for sure the full extent that any factor – genetic or environmental – plays in these conditions.

How To Spot Anxiety & Depression

At what point does anxiety become a condition? For many people, mild anxiety or stress is a regular part of their lives. But for others, these feelings might become overwhelming and interfere with daily activities.

Someone with an anxiety disorder will typically experience more frequent rapid breathing and heart rate, trouble sleeping, digestive and stomach issues, and persistent worries.

Similarly, depression can also vary in severity from person to person. Some people may only experience depressive episodes occasionally, while others may feel depressed most days. A few common signs of depression include feeling tired most of the time, having trouble concentrating on day-to-day tasks, sudden weight changes, and feeling hopeless or angry.

What To Do If You Exhibit These Symptoms

Do any of these signs sound familiar? If you’re experiencing a number of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, it might be time to let your doctor know, especially if either condition runs in your family.

You might not be able to prevent depression or anxiety, let alone predict it, but you can be proactive. Whether or not a mental health condition runs in your family, there are always healthy habits you can build now to keep it from worsening including reaching out for support.

Move Forward In Wellness This Year!

A new year is underway filled with opportunities. This year, make a commitment to finding renewed wellness at Pacific Mind Health. We’re here to help you move forward in clarity, renewed focus, and happiness this year and beyond. Let’s find the right treatment that can help you break free of the symptoms that are holding you back in life.