Depression is a mental disorder that can keep its victims from leading normal, happy lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 26.2 percent of American adults suffer from depression every year.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Chronic insomnia and fatigue
- Consistent, inexplicable sadness
- Feelings of helplessness and/or worthlessness
- Feelings of regret or guilt
- Loss of interest in once favored activities
- Reduced sex drive.
While environmental factors can trigger depression, studies have shown that depression is genetic. People with a history of family depression are more likely to develop the disease. Learn more about these depression genetic factors.
Depression: Genetic Factors
Researchers have found a link between family medical history, genetics and depression. If you have a family history of depression, this link between genetics and depression makes you more likely to inherit the disease than the general population. Twin studies also back up the apparent genetics of depression. If one twin suffers from depression, the other twin is also susceptible to the disorder, even if they are raised in different families.
While it’s fairly obvious that depression is genetic, the role of genetics in depression doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in the family will be depressed at some point. It simply means that family members have a higher level of vulnerability to depression, and they should remain vigilant about changes in their moods.
The genetics of depression is a tricky subject. Researchers have studied for years trying to isolate a single gene that causes depression. So far, they haven’t found one. Instead, they believe that many different genes acting together, combined with outside influences such as stress and anxiety, cause depression.
Dealing With Genetics and Depression
If you have taken a DNA test and found out that you have a genetic predisposition to depression, or if you know that your family has a history of the disease, you can take preventive measures to fight off depression.
First, make sure you’re physically active. Just 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week can boost your mood and help prevent depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. You’ll also want to take care of your health. Follow a balanced diet and get the proper amount of sleep each night. Physical health has a great impact on your emotional wellbeing, and may be able to offset the link between genetics and depression.
Reach out to those around you, and maintain a supportive network of family and friends. Find an outlet for your stress and anxiety, such as exercise, writing, music or art. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek professional assistance from a licensed therapist to help you work through your problems. If you follow these steps, you can remain healthy and happy, regardless of the role of genetics in depression.
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