According to a common myth, depression is solely genetic. While in some cases there is a genetic link, this doesn’t mean that genes are the only cause of depression. Recent depression research is shedding light on common depression myths like this one.

Is Depression Genetic?

When a child inherits genes from her parents, these genes determine many characteristics, including predisposition to certain conditions. Although it has long been recognized that depression runs in families, ongoing research is still determining the link between genetics and depression.

While depression research hasn’t identified a single gene responsible for depression, combinations of genetic traits may increase the risk of depression.

Hereditary Research and Depression

According to Omni Medical Search, a person with a depressed parent or sibling is one and a half to three times more likely than average to suffer from depression. Furthermore, studies that test twins also provide insight into the depression – genetic link.

Depression research by the National Institute of Mental Health shows that if one identical twin develops depression, the other has a 76 percent chance of having depression when raised in the same household. Alternatively, if the twins are raised separately, the second twin has a 67 percent chance of being depressed.

Studies of non-identical (fraternal) twins with similar genetic codes show a 19 percent chance of developing depression if the other twin has it.

While these twin studies suggest there is a genetic link that contributes to depression, genetics is not the only cause of depression. If it were, an identical twin, with 100 percent identical genes to his sibling, would have a 100 percent chance of developing depression if his brother had it.

Other Causes of Depression

Behavioral aspects, such as thought patterns, may affect the likelihood of developing depression. These include whether a person is an optimist or a pessimist, as well as self-assessments. Therapy can help encourage positive thought patterns, which may reduce depression symptoms.

Environmental aspects, such as stressful situations, may also increase the risk of developing depression. Depressive episodes may be caused by acute stress or chronic stress, like juggling a stressful job or living in an abusive home. Traumatic events or childhood difficulties may also trigger episodes of depression.

Depression myths abound, but depression is a medical illness. Although there is a depression genetic link, this condition is neither inevitable nor incurable.


Levinson, D. and Nichols, W. (n.d.). Major depression and genetics. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from the Stanford School of Medicine website:

Price, P. (2004). Causes of depression. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from the All About Depression website:

Price, P. (2004). Environmental causes of depression. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from the All About Depression website:

Price, P. (2004). Genetic causes of depression. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from the All About Depression website:

 Posted on : June 26, 2014