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Is Depression Genetic or Environmental?

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According to scientists, there may be a genetic component to up to 40% of cases of depression. Keep reading to learn more about the link between depression and genetics.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: February 13, 2023

Is Depression Genetic or Environmental? Is Depression Hereditary?

Depression Is Genetic (Depression Is Hereditary): Genetics Of Depression

Perhaps your mum had it. It could be from your sister or your uncle. It can be distressing to see a family member go through depression. But does that mean you’ll have mental health issues as well?

The most typical type of depression is clinical depression, commonly referred to as major depressive disorder. According to the Stanford School of Medicine, 10% of Americans will go through this kind of depression at some point in their lives.

Furthermore, siblings and kids are more prone to share this illness. A person’s likelihood of experiencing depression is about five times higher if they have a depressed relative than if they don’t.

Researchers have looked into the possibility that depression and genes are related. Is depression inherited, or are there other causes?

Can Depression Be Genetic? Genetically Depressed

A gene that appears to be prominent in several family members who suffer from depression was discovered by a British research team. More than 800 families with recurrent depression have chromosome 3p25-26 identified.

According to scientists, there may be a genetic component to up to 40% of cases of depression. The remaining 60% could be accounted for by environmental and other factors.

Depression Genetic: Other Factors

Anyone who experiences depression as a child may be more prone to developing it themselves. Under certain circumstances, a youngster who observes a depressive parent or sibling may pick up on that person’s behavior. Youngsters may not find it strange if they observe their parents spending days in bed, for instance.

Gender might also play a role. According to one study, men only had a 29 percent probability of having inherited depression, whereas women had a 42 percent likelihood.

Genetic Depression: Understanding Genetic Variations

A complex interplay of many factors, not just specific genes, determines heredity. Researchers frequently explore for variations in genes while researching depression or other medical problems. According to their impact on the gene, if any, these modifications are categorized.

One gene variation that is impacted by variations is eye color. The color of your eyes is influenced by variations in several genes, including some that control the production of melanin. Your parents pass along a collection of genes to you, each with a distinct variety.

By comparing parents and other close relatives, families can frequently predict the color of a child’s eyes, but variations can act unexpectedly. For instance, a child with brown eyes may have blue-eyed parents.

Even for a straightforward attribute like eye color, heritability is a complicated procedure. The complete impact of genetic differences on diseases like depression has not yet been fully elucidated by studies.

 A person's likelihood of experiencing depression is about five times higher if they have a depressed relative than if they don't.
A person’s likelihood of experiencing depression is about five times higher if they have a depressed relative than if they don’t.

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Depression Fact Sheet

Depression Overview

Depression is a group of illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder that are connected to mood elevation or depression

Types of Depression

Clinical Depression: A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

Persistent depressive disorder: A mild but long-term form of depression.

Bipolar disorder: A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

Bipolar II disorder:  A type of bipolar disorder characterized by depressive and hypomanic episodes.

Postpartum depression: Depression that occurs after childbirth.

Depression Treatments

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Depression Statistics

One of the most prevalent mental diseases in the US is major depression. Some people who have serious depression may experience substantial impairments that impede or restrict their capacity to engage in important life activities.

21 million

An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Is Depression Genetic? Depression Genetics: Hereditary Depression

Researchers are as baffled by the causes of depression as are the medical experts who treat it and, perhaps most importantly, the 300 million people worldwide who suffer from it.
Is Depression And Anxiety Genetic? Researchers are as baffled by the causes of depression as are the medical experts who treat it and, perhaps most importantly, the 300 million people worldwide who suffer from it.

Can Depression Be Hereditary? Genetics Depression

Is Depression Genetic? Researchers are as baffled by the causes of depression as are the medical experts who treat it and, perhaps most importantly, the 300 million people worldwide who suffer from it.

Although a person’s genetics may point to a potential risk for depression, they cannot always predict whether they will experience this all-too-common mental health illness.

There is no “number one cause” of depression, and the connection between genetics, depression, and other recognized contributory variables is even more nuanced.

You could be concerned about developing depression if you were told you have a “depression gene.” Genetic susceptibility to a disorder, however, does not guarantee that you will develop it. Illness simply means that you might be more vulnerable to it than someone whose genetic composition is different.

Is Depression Hereditary Or Genetic? Depression And Genetics

According to studies, the interaction between genes and additional factors (including environment and trauma) determines whether someone would experience depression.

According to some research, compared to the general population, someone who has a first-degree family (a parent, sibling, or child) who has been diagnosed with depression maybe three times more likely to develop the illness themselves.

It’s crucial to remember that while studies have shown a definite connection within families, these results do not take into account people who have depression without a familial history. Research has shown that genes affect the likelihood of developing several illnesses, including depression.

According to studies, depression may have a heritable component. Additionally, some studies have suggested that women may be more vulnerable than men to the genetic variables linked to depression.

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Is Depression And Anxiety Hereditary? Demystifying the “Depression Gene”

Is Depression Hereditary Or Genetic? A genetic variant can increase your risk of developing a disorder linked to that variant, but it does not guarantee it. A gene linked to a certain condition may be more (or less) likely to contribute to the onset of that condition if it is altered. Compared to a pathogenic variant, a benign genetic variation is less likely to affect the condition.

Sometimes genetic variants are discovered by researchers, but they are unsure of their effects if any. It is said that these variations have “unknown relevance.” The major depressive disorder may have genetic ties, according to several sizable genome-wide studies. In 2017, scientists discovered two new genetic variations linked to depression.

A 2018 study that was published in the journal Nature Genetics found a number of genetic variations that seemed to be connected to depressive symptoms and, in some cases, physical variations in the brain.

A single gene has not been definitively linked to depression, despite the fact that research has shed light on the potential heredity of mental disease.

It is more likely, in the opinion of scientists, that each of the several genes and genetic variants contributes only a little amount to an individual’s overall risk. According to research, there are various ways (or modes of inheritance) that genes can be handed down, and this is one more thing that could have an impact on a person’s hereditary propensity for depression.

Depression In Genetics: Can Genetics Affect Mental Health Treatment?

Medication, psychotherapy, and other methods including cognitive behavioral therapy can all be used to treat depression (CBT). A combination of therapies may be advised for some patients.

Your genetic makeup may have an impact on how effectively a given treatment works for you. For instance, studies have suggested that specific genes may impact how well your body metabolizes, excretes, and absorbs alcohol and other pharmaceuticals, including antidepressants.

There are several genes known to affect drug metabolism, but doctors and researchers are more interested in the findings from these studies than the general public. However, genomic testing is not the same as genetic testing, even if some consumer genomic test kits include information on subjects like drug metabolism.

Additionally, the value of this knowledge for consumers is not well understood by medical professionals and researchers. Before making decisions about your health care, including how to manage your depression, talk to your doctor about your genomic health information.

The implications of genetic study findings for the usage of antidepressants and other drugs to treat depression require further study.

Putting genetics aside, bear in mind that selecting a course of treatment can take some time if you have been diagnosed with depression. Before choosing the best fit, you might need to test out several different kinds of therapy. Your treatment regimen may possibly need to be modified over time.

Inform your doctor about any drugs, supplements, or herbal treatments you are currently using before beginning a depression medication. These substances may interact with antidepressants and impair their effectiveness or perhaps have negative side effects.

Keep in touch with your doctor and the rest of your mental health care team while you experiment with various methods. Tell them right away if you encounter any negative effects.

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Is Postpartum Depression Genetic?

Is Postpartum Depression Hereditary? Shortly after giving birth, postpartum depression symptoms start to show. Women can better prepare for the period following childbirth if they are aware of the inherited nature of postpartum depression.

Is Post Partum Depression Hereditary? If your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, cousin, or other family members have experienced postpartum depression and they have comparable experiences, there is a good possibility that you will as well.

There is still a chance that you could develop postpartum depression even if no women in your family have ever complained of having it. Genetics alone cannot fully explain depression; environmental circumstances also play a part.

Genetics alone cannot fully explain depression; environmental circumstances also play a part.
Is Clinical Depression Hereditary? Genetics alone cannot fully explain depression; environmental circumstances also play a part.

For instance, a difficult birth could perhaps result in postpartum depression. Recognize the danger indicators and risk factors so you can seek assistance as soon as feasible. Risk elements consist of:

  • Family history of postpartum depression
  • Personal history of any type of depression
  • Stressful events that occurred during pregnancy
  • Difficulty breastfeeding
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Baby born with health problems
  • Relationship problems with significant other
  • Weak support system
  • Financial strain

Is Bipolar Depression Genetic? Is Manic Depression Hereditary?

Is Bipolar Depression Hereditary? While the causes of bipolar disease are not entirely understood, some risk factors have been found. A history of the illness in the family is one of the biggest risk factors. Some genes may be responsible for this link.

A 2009 review found that the chance of acquiring the disease in adults who have relatives with it is on average ten times higher. If the affected family member is a close relative, your risk is increased much more. Accordingly, if either of your parents has bipolar disorder, your risk of getting it is higher than that of someone whose great-aunt has the illness.

About 60 to 80 percent of the causes of bipolar illness are genetic. Thus, there are other causes of bipolar disease besides inheritance. Additionally, it implies that even if the condition runs in your family, you may not necessarily end up with it. The majority of a bipolar disorder sufferer’s family members won’t also have the illness.

Treatments for Depression

Psychotherapy and antidepressants are frequently recommended by medical practitioners to treat depression. Depending on your symptoms and treatment objectives, you can use either one of these methods alone or in conjunction with dietary changes.

Increasing your vitamin D intake could assist with symptoms of depression if a vitamin D deficiency is the cause. Consult a medical expert to learn more about your treatment options and what might be most effective for you. Here are some other actions you may take if you’re depressed that might help lessen your symptoms:

  • Sign up for a support group. You can find others who are going through the same symptoms online, over the phone, or in your local area by joining a support group. They are able to encourage and show sympathy.
  • Regular exercise. Regular exercise releases “feel-good” chemicals like endorphins into the brain, which helps to lessen the symptoms of depression. Cardio should be done for around 30 minutes a day, three times per week, and more days and minutes can be added as needed.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Maintain a regular sleep schedule to manage depression-related sleep problems. A sleep and wake alarm might be set. You could also keep a journal to track your development, noting your sleep duration and caliber.
  • Contact your loved ones. You might find support from your friends or family while you manage your symptoms. Your network of reliable, encouraging friends and family may be able to assist your treatment efforts if you are able to talk to them about your depression.

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Genetics of Depression FAQs

  1. What is MTHFR Mutation And Depression? MTHFR Gene Mutation And Depression

    MTHFR Gene Mutation Depression: It was found that MTHFR C677T polymorphism is significantly related to schizophrenia and major depression in the overall population. MTHFR C677T has been linked to an increased risk of bipolar disorder in the recessive model (TT vs. CT + CC).

  2. Is Genetic Testing For Depression Possible? Genetic Testing Depression

    Depression Genetic Testing (Genetic Test Depression): It is still too early to utilize genetic testing or genome scans to accurately diagnose or treat mental diseases, even though recent research has started to discover the genetic markers associated with several mental disorders, which may eventually lead to better screening and more individualized treatment.

  3. What is Genetic Test For Anti Depressants? Genetic Testing For Depression Medications

    Genetic Testing For Depression Medication: Pharmacogenomic tests look for genes that encode certain enzymes in your DNA, which is retrieved through a blood draw or a saliva swab. The results can be categorized based on how quickly your body metabolizes and eliminates specific pharmaceuticals, such as various antidepressants.

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