Psychiatrist Questions Depression

Is depression hereditary?

I am 25 year old girl and I have a family where depression strikes almost everyone around the age of 27 years. Is it only a coincidence or something to do with the genetics? Will I also get the disease when I hit the age?

11 Answers

Mood disorders can run in families but not everyone in the family will get it.
It is an interaction of genes and circumstance. You aren't doomed.
Depression does have some hereditary component, but is less understood than Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder.
Yes, hereditary plays an important role in causing depression, especially in your case as there is a strong component. But there are other factors e.g. medical causes, personality traits and your psychological insight.
Having family members with depression predisposes you and may increase your risk of having depression but you can take preventive measures to help reduce your risk such as stress management, ensuring 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, regular exercising (yoga, walking, swimming etc...), healthy nutrition intake, meditation, seeking support from friends and family are a few things. You can also learn more about depression and keep a close watch and seek early interventions. There is no way to predict that you will have depression when you hit certain age but prevention will help to reduce the risk.
There is a significant genetic component to depression, but probably less that half of vulnerable family will develop depression. If you develop symptoms, please seek help early.
There is a genetic component to depression, but depression is not 100% hereditary. Other internal and external factors also play a role, such as life experiences, family interactions, etc. With all of that said, you should be aware of depressive symptoms and seek professional help if any arise.

Rob Dahmes, MD
Not sure about the particular age but depression can be found in families due to genetics. If 27 years of age is vulnerable in your family then you should be coped up well to face the challenge.
First of all, your specific genetic predisposition for developing unipolar depression can/could only be evaluated and grossly estimated based on the details (bipolar vs. unipolar depression) and degree of genetic contribution (parent or sibling vs. grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) by the various family members you describe as "everyone." And, whether or not you ever develop any degree of clinical depression will be determined by the interaction of past, current and future environments/experiences (see last entry) and whatever genetic predisposition you may have. For the most compelling, sophisticated and robust research on the nature vs. nurture question regarding psychiatric and substance use disorders, I would refer you to the work of Kenneth S. Kendler. I am going to contact him and ask him if I may post on my website a PowerPoint he sent me on one of his award lectures. While it is very technical/academic in parts, it also presents very clear and simple findings/conclusions about what we have learned from his and others' research on this question. They include: 1) that most psychiatric disorders are heritable, 2) that the inter-relationship of genetic and environment risk factors is likely to be subtle, 3) the likely importance of genotype-environment interaction or “genetic control of sensitivity to the environment, 4) the likely importance of genotype-environment correlation (genetic control of exposure to the environment), 5) how little we know about the possible impact of historical and population differences on our estimates of the importance of genetic and environmental risk factors, 6) how little we know of the development of risk - “The Dance through time of genetic and environmental risk factors”. Taken from a table from the above mentioned lecture, which estimates percentage of genetic contribution to various psychiatric disorders compared to other physical conditions and traits, there is 20-40% heritability of Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Bulimia as well as blood pressure and personality, leaving 60-80 % to environment and experience. So rather than worry at this point, I suggest you focus on living whatever the healthiest and most rewarding life would be for you.

BINGO! Since genetics can be variable, you are not guaranteed depression BUT the probability that you will carry the genes are high, whether you exhibit the trait is more variable.