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Mental Health Disorders That Run In Families

Despite unprecedented development made in medical science, the causes of most mental illnesses remain mysterious. Chances are that if you struggle through or know someone who does, you know the complexities involved. There are genetic components on one hand, and then biological, environmental, and even emotional reasons that lead to the rise in such anomalies. Genetic mental health issues mostly occur in families. In other words, if a certain mental health problem is due to inheritance, successive generations are likely to suffer the same too. An Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Centre, Dr. Ravi Shah said that most mental illnesses don’t occur because of one single gene. So, a family history of mental illnesses naturally raises the hazards of the same in patients on an average. However, we can’t guarantee the inevitability of such issues. Here are few such illnesses.


Characterized by mostly emotionlessness, delusions, panic attacks, and ‘thinking problems’, Schizophrenia has a high genetic risk. Dr. Bryan Bruno, the medical director at Mod City TMS said that in our lifetime, the likelihood of developing this issue is almost 1% for the general population and 45% more for people whose biological parents (even either side) have had schizophrenia. If you’re skeptical about this mental illness, we suggest consulting the doctor instead of blindly speculating. You would do yourself greater good learning the preventive measures too.

Anxiety Disorders

Just like schizophrenia, even anxiety disorders happen to run in families. But how would you decipher if you’re struggling with such a disorder or not? Few telltale symptoms include social isolation, carrying low self-esteem, and high levels of stress. As per the renowned psychologist and author, Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, these are not always determiners. In some cases, self-medication can also lead to substance abuse. It’s important to note that coping up with such symptoms requires talking to loved ones or consulting a therapist at the earliest, rather than making ways for self medications.

Bipolar Disorders

Sometimes this is used in a funny context, but mood disorders like bipolar ones aren’t easy to deal with. And yes, they can be genetic too. As per Dr. Shah, people having first-degree relatives suffering from the disorder or plain depression carry high risks of developing the same. Even Bruno adds that the lifetime chance of contracting this unfortunate disease is no less than 2 to 3% for an average human being. With parents or relatives having this mental illness, the likelihood factor jumps up to 50%! Similar to the former, a diagnosis at times proves difficult, so rush to the nearest medical expert if you feel you’ve started displaying signs and symptoms, so they can channelize the exact treatment correctly.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Much like anxiety disorders, this one can be genetic (if not always). A licensed marriage and family therapist who also happens to be a Ph.D. holder, Dr. Racine R. Henry, added that the disorder often surfaces after we develop and master some unhealthy coping mechanisms or learned behavioral patterns. When people start showing traits of repeating their verbal or behavioral actions which are not merely deliberate, but largely out of their control, and bring discomfort to the table – it is OCD! Most children who’ve grown up in the presence of OCD-affected parents can also adopt similar styles or just do the same out of defiance. Often, trauma triggers it.


Symptoms of depression can occur for several reasons. However, if you’ve seen close relatives or parents acting out of it, then you can also display such behaviors shortly. Anxiety and depression usually run in families and there are two major reasons that the founder of Makin Wellness, Sara Makin, thinks lead to such a mental state. Either they’ve been genetically predisposed or they make keen observations about their parents’ behavior. For example, your mother sleeping for long hours to evade issues will likely result in you adopting a similar pattern. If you see yourself exhibiting similar habits to your parent’s or relatives’ depressive states, consult a psychologist right away. He or she might be far better equipped to deal with it from its inception.

There are ways to overcome genetic mental health disorders too. But the initiative needs to be taken, and that too, early on. So, take the precautionary measure at the right time, and in case of an emergency, do not hesitate to call 911.

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