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Is depression inherited or acquired?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

 serious illnesses in the world. Unfortunately, it is also a question mark for medical science. Experts still don’t know what causes the disease, how to physically diagnose it, or effectively treat it. However, important information has been gathered through the study of depression in families around the world.

Research shows that genes play an important role in the development of this pathology, which, added to the environment where these patients develop, also influences the development of the disease. In this FastlyHealarticle we answer the question Is depression hereditary or acquired?

Types of depression

There are many different types of depression. Some are caused by events and others are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is normal to feel sad at some moments in life, but if this state of sadness is persistent over time, it is necessary to consult a doctor. If it is a depression, the signs should be evaluated and the exact condition diagnosed, because the treatment depends on it.

Among the most common types of depression are:

  • Major depressive disorder : it is a mood disorder characterized by a series of symptoms: fatigue, disinterest in previously enjoyed activities, depressed mood and wishes for death and suicide.
  • Dysthymia : Now known as persistent depressive disorder, it refers to a type of chronic depression that has been present for at least two years. It can be mild, moderate, or severe.
  • Postpartum Depression : Pregnancy can cause significant hormonal changes that can often affect a woman’s moods. It can range from persistent lethargy and sadness requiring medical treatment to postpartum psychosis, a condition in which the mood episode is accompanied by confusion, hallucinations, or delusions. In the following article you can find more information about postpartum depression.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder : some women may have a depressive picture in the days before menstruation. Among the most common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are irritability, fatigue, anxiety, moodiness, bloating, increased appetite, food cravings, sore and tender breasts.
  • Atypical Depression : If you experience signs of depression (such as overeating, sleeping too much, or extreme sensitivity to rejection) but are suddenly uplifted in the face of a positive event, you may be diagnosed with atypical depression. It is a type of depression that does not follow what was thought to be the “typical” presentation of the disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder : is a disorder characterized by periods of abnormally high mood known as mania. These periods of mania can be mild (hypomania) or they can be so extreme that they cause a person to be disabled. They come to require hospitalization because the sense of reality is affected. The vast majority of people with bipolar illness also have episodes of major depression.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: This disorder is believed to be triggered by a disturbance in the body’s normal circadian rhythm. Light entering the eyes influences this rhythm, and any seasonal variation in the night-day pattern can cause a disruption leading to depression. It is more common in the most distant regions of the north or south of the planet. It is often treated with light therapy to compensate for the loss of light that occurs in some seasons.

Is depression inherited or acquired?

First, depression is known to run in families, which involves the influence of particular genes that can make an individual vulnerable to the disease. However, genes are only part of the picture. A child doesn’t just inherit genes, he or she inherits a family. Very often families with mental or behavioral disorders are also families in which there is a considerable amount of dysfunction. That implies the influence of the environment and genes.

Research on the inheritance of depression within families shows that some people are more likely to develop the disease than others. If you have a parent or sibling who has had major depression, you may be 1.5 to 3 times more likely to develop the disease than those who do not have a close relative with the disease.

Bipolar disorder has a strong genetic influence. Of those with bipolar disorder, approximately 50% have a parent with a history of clinical depression. When a mother or father has bipolar disorder, their child will have a 25% chance of developing some form of clinical depression.

If both parents have bipolar disorder, the chance that their child will also develop bipolar disorder is between 50% and 75%. The brothers and sisters of those with bipolar disorder may be 8 to 18 times more likely to develop bipolar disorder and 2 to 10 times more likely to develop major depressive disorder than others who do not have such siblings.

Much of what is known about the genetic influence on clinical depression is based on research that has been done with identical twins. Identical twins are very useful to researchers as they both have the exact same genetic code. It has been found that when one identical twin becomes depressed, the other will also develop clinical depression, about 76% of the time.

When identical twins are separated from each other, they both become depressed about 67% of the time. Because both twins become depressed at such a high rate, the implication is that there is a strong genetic influence . However, because the rate of depression in identical twins is no closer to 100%, evidence that there are other things that influence a person’s vulnerability to depression . These can include environmental factors such as childhood experiences, current stressors, traumatic events, exposure to substances, medical illnesses, and so on.

Research has also been done with fraternal twins. Unlike identical twins who have the same genetic code, these siblings share only about 50% of their genetic makeup and do not necessarily look alike. Studies have shown that when one twin brother becomes depressed, the other also develops depression about 19% of the time. This is still a higher rate of depression compared to general rates for the general public, pointing once again towards a genetic influence on the development of clinical depression .

Genetic causes of depression

A British research team recently isolated a gene that appears to be prevalent in multiple members of families with depression. Chromosome 3p25-26 was found in more than 800 families with recurrent depression. Scientists believe that up to 40% of people with depression can be linked to a genetic background. The environment and other factors make up the other 60%, that is, depression is 40% hereditary and 60% acquired .

This research also showed that people with parents or siblings who have depression are up to three times more likely to have the disease. So the answer to, Is depression hereditary or acquired? it happens by taking into account all the factors in each particular case.

At FastlyHeal we hope to have answered this question, but the information provided here does not replace the judgment of a physician. If you have any questions, we recommend that you go to a medical professional.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Is depression hereditary or acquired? , we recommend that you enter our category of Mental Disorders .

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