You’re concerned that you may be battling depression, but where did it come from? Could a close family member with this condition put you at increased risk for inheriting depression yourself. Learn what causes this complex mental health disorder.
You have been feeling persistently sad, lonely, and exhausted, and it’s beginning to feel like there is no end in sight. What’s going on? Could it be depression?
If you suspect that you might be living with depression, chances are you are exploring a variety of resources to learn more about this common but serious mental health disorder. You may be wondering what has caused your depression, and if it’s possible that you could have inherited it from a family member. Understanding some of the major contributors to depression can help you better know how to manage this condition.
Can Depression Be Passed Down to Me Genetically?
As you try to understand your symptoms, you may reflect on others in your family who might also have depression. Perhaps you have a sibling who was diagnosed with this condition after a depressive episode, or a parent who has never been formally diagnosed but has shown signs of depression over the years. Studies have found that people who have a family member with depression have an increased potential for developing depression, with the risk of depression rising from about 10% in the general population to 30% when a close relative such as a parent is also affected.
To look specifically at a genetic connection, researchers have studied depression which occurs in sets of identical twins. These studies have indicated that heritability is somewhere between 40-50%, and could be even higher with severe, recurrent depression.
However, researchers currently believe that depression isn’t linked to one specific gene, but is more likely due to certain combinations of genes that then predispose someone to developing it. This can be further influenced by other factors that scientists have identified as playing a role in depression.
What Else Causes Depression?
Like all mental illnesses, depression is influenced by a variety of factors, of which genetics also plays a role. Other contributors to depression include things like:
- Situational factors – if you’ve gone through a challenging life event like divorce or job loss, experienced the death of someone close to you, or are struggling with substance abuse, this can impact your risk of developing depression
- Environmental factors – your exposure to trauma, abuse, or other situations that may have negatively affect you either in childhood or as an adult can increase your risk of developing depression
- Physiological factors – abnormalities in the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, chronic pain or medical conditions, sleep disorders, aging, and interactions with medications can also contribute to a heightened risk of depression
In some cases, the presence of other mental health disorders may increase the risk of depression. For example, it is not uncommon for people with an anxiety disorder to also be diagnosed with clinical depression.
Is Anxiety Hereditary?
Similar to depression, the genetic links for anxiety disorders are not entirely understood. While studies have shown that there are at least some genetic factors at play, anxiety is also not caused by a single gene. Having a family member that has anxiety can indicate an increased risk for inheriting it yourself, but like depression there are other factors that also play a significant role in whether you also end up with anxiety.
How Do I Know if I Have Depression?
What distinguishes depression from normal feelings of stress, sadness or fatigue in the face of challenge or loss is the persistence of these feelings over time. If you have been experiencing symptoms of depression for two weeks or more, it is important to be evaluated by a medical or mental health professional.
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia and oversleeping
- Irritability or emotional outbursts
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feeling regularly anxious or agitated
- Unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches or backaches
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
If you think you may be depressed, getting help quickly is critical in order to avoid worsening symptoms. Once your depression is diagnosed, the next step is creating a treatment plan to help you manage symptoms and start feeling better.
How is Depression Treated?
If you are diagnosed with depression, there are a number of treatment options available to help understand the causes of your condition and relieve your symptoms. These can include things like:
Using Therapy to Treat Depression
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a first choice of many mental health specialists in addressing depression. CBT will work to uncover and understand the root causes of your depression, and this is where potential hereditary links might be explored further.
CBT can be done in an individual or a group setting, and focuses on identifying problematic thinking patterns, and how these thoughts impact quality of life. The therapist then works with the client to reshape these patterns, and develop coping skills that will reduce stress and build resilience around life’s challenges.
Improving Mood and Relieving Stress through Wellness Practices
Wellness practices like exercise, mindfulness meditation, and yoga have been proven to have positive effects on boosting mood and relieving symptoms of depression via the natural stimulation of mood-related neurotransmitters. Integrating these practices into your daily routines, as well as adhering to a healthy, balanced diet and practicing good sleep habits builds a strong foundation by which to heal from depression.
Taking Medication to Help Alleviate Symptoms
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe antidepressants or other drugs to help improve sleep and boost your mood. While these medications are effective for some people, there may be side effects, and medical professionals generally agree that they work best when used alongside other therapies or practices also targeted towards managing depression.
Trying TMS for Treatment-Resistant Depression
For those who have experienced difficulties in managing symptoms of depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may be an effective alternative. This cutting-edge, FDA-approved technology is gentle and non-invasive, using magnetic waves to stimulate nerve cells in the brain linked to mood regulation and depression.
Overcoming Depression at The Dawn Thailand
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab has helped over 700 clients from around the world to overcome addiction and mental health issues at its residential treatment centre in Thailand. Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), The Dawn offers tailormade treatment plans that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results.
Depression Treatment in Thailand
Stress, worry and lack of downtime are known triggers of most mental health conditions. Located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, The Dawn’s tranquil riverfront location immediately transports you into an oasis of calm, completely removing you from all your stressors. Call The Dawn today to learn more about our highly personalised depression treatment programme.