Can depression be inherited? I was just wondering because I have depression, along with my mom, sister, and aunts.
A person might feel depressed for many reasons, and sometimes genetics plays a role. Having parents or other family members who are depressed can increase the likelihood that someone may become depressed. But even when depression may be partly due to an inherited tendency, it usually takes a combination of factors for a person to develop depression.
Stressful events, family conflict, big disappointments, or grief can all trigger depression. Relationships with people who criticize more than they show affection can lead to depression because they may teach a girl or guy to become self-critical and to feel inadequate, two feelings often associated with depression. For some girls, hormonal changes might play a role in depression and irritable moods. And in some people, certain medical conditions can cause low energy and a depressed mood.
It's important to remember, though, that having family members with depression does not necessarily mean that someone will become depressed. And people with no family history can become depressed, too.
Whatever the contributing factors may be, depression is a very treatable condition. If you feel depressed or are concerned, discuss your symptoms with a health professional who can evaluate you and recommend treatment. If you ever feel extremely depressed or like you might hurt yourself, get help immediately.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2010
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