Just like physical health conditions can be genetic, so can mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Knowing which mental health disorders have strong genetic ties can help you assess your risk factors 一 and shape an action plan to support your mental wellness.
Below, Dr. Hadi Estakhri discusses four mental health disorders that run in families and how we can help you here at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health in Newport Beach, California.
1. Major depression
There are many types of depression, including bipolar depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and major depression. Together, depressive disorders affect 350 million people globally.
Major depression is one of the most prevalent types of depressive disorders and has strong genetic ties. Many studies that focus on the mental health of twins demonstrate this genetic link. Researchers believe that about 40% of depression cases are linked to a variation in chromosome 3p25-26 while the remaining 60% of cases are linked to environmental factors.
2. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Decades of research reveal that ADHD has an incredibly high heritability rate of 74%. As many as 50% of parents with ADHD have a child with ADHD. In other words, if you have ADHD, your child has more than a 50% chance of having it. If your older sibling has ADHD, you have a 30% chance of having it as well.
3. Bipolar disorder
Your risk of developing bipolar disorder is greater if you have first-degree relatives diagnosed with the condition. As many as 80% of bipolar diagnoses are tied to genetic factors.
Like major depression and ADHD, bipolar disorder inheritance is linked to a variation in a specific gene. In this case, the common variant rs12576775 in the gene ODZ4 has been connected with an increased inheritance of bipolar disorder.
4. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
GAD 一 one of many anxiety disorders 一 is characterized by intense worry and fear. It can cause mental symptoms as well as physical ones. Fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, and stomach aches are common with GAD.
GAD can be triggered by a complex combination of biological, environmental, and genetic factors. To that end, researchers have concluded that GAD has genetic components. Specifically, the variations in the RBFOX1 gene are linked to the development of GAD.
Variations in the other genes can be linked to other anxiety disorders too. For example, a variation in the OXTR gene is linked to social anxiety disorders.
Environmental and genetic factors
It’s important to remember that just because you have a family member with a mental health disorder doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll inherit one too.
Likewise, even if you don’t have a family member with one of these conditions, it’s still possible to develop one. That’s because mental health conditions have both environmental and genetic risk factors. For instance, traumatic events can increase your risk of developing anxiety, while hormonal imbalances can also increase your risk of depression.
Regardless of whether you have risk factors for these mental health disorders, it’s important to continue to support your mental well-being. You can do that through:
- Practicing good sleep hygiene
- Eating brain-healthy foods
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining healthy relationships
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to seek help if you start to experience any signs of a mental health disorder. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but know that Dr. E and our team are here to support you and help you feel better.
We understand the complex relationships between your biology, genetics, and environment, and how it all affects you and your mental wellness.
Want to talk? Book an appointment with Dr. Estakhri today. You can reach us by calling 949-945-0927 or using our online scheduling tool.