Frequently Asked Questions About Depression And Genetics

I was diagnosed with depression in the 80s. Back then, many people who grew up in the foster care system like me had the same mental health condition (or worse), although the causes were always different. Some had been emotionally or sexually abused by their parents, foster parents, or other kids in the system. Others wanted to reunite with their family so much, so they ended up getting depressed after realizing that it was no longer possible due to their parents’ issues (typically with substance abuse, unemployment, or criminal activities).

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In my case, I lost hope in getting adopted. I was already 14 years old at the time, you see. Even around that time, the couples wishing to adopt foster children wanted babies or toddlers. That way, they had no recollection of their biological family or would try to look for them. I was lucky that I had never been sexually abused by any of my foster families in the past, but no one chose me to be their foster kid since I was 11 years old. While most of the other children would receive gifts from their foster families, I would get a stuffed toy from the foster home administrators.

However, I got the surprise of my life when my biological father visited me one day. I never knew him before; my mother used to tell me that he was already dead. But it turned out that she merely hid me from him out of spite, and he found out about me because one of the foster home sponsors happened to be his friend. What a small world, right?

Long story short, my biological father adopted me, gave me a wonderful home, sent me to the best school, and gave me everything I could ever ask for and more.

Having A Kid With Similar Issues

I went on to have a happy life. I met an incredible man in college, and we eventually got married. When I had Mary, our firstborn, I felt like my life was already complete. I had a stable job, while my husband’s business was already successful, so I knew that Mary would grow up with all the luxury in the world, unlike me.

When Mary became a teenager, though, I noticed a behavioral shift in her. She said no to everything, including eating or sleeping on time. Because of that, she grew thin and was always late for school. I asked Mary what’s wrong, but she would not say a thing. I thought back to the last few months, but I could not think of anything that could upset Mary this bad. Thus, it made me wonder if I somehow passed my depression to her.

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How do genetics play a role in depression? 

Research reveals that depression can be passed down to the children of individuals who have been diagnosed with this mental disorder.

Can mental health be genetic? 

According to scientists, there is a 40% chance of a mental disorder being caused by genetics. 

What are the four major causes of depression? 

  • Genetics
  • Traumatic situations
  • Abuse
  • Other illnesses

Does depression count as a disability? 

Yes, depression counts as a disability.

Does depression give you memory loss? 

Depression may give you memory loss, given that it reduces the gray matter in the brain and makes it age faster than usual.

How does depression affect intelligence? 

Depression affects intelligence by hampering your brain’s executive functions. Thus, instead of thinking simply and fixing your problems, you feel like that is not possible at all.

Does depression cause Alzheimer’s? 

It does not always happen, but depression can cause Alzheimer’s disease. The reason is that mental disorder brings forth cognitive decline. The worse it gets, the faster your brain function decreases.

Do pharmacists recommend Prevagen? 

Yes, pharmacists genuinely recommend Prevagen as a memory-boosting drug.

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What is the best supplement for the brain? 

Fish oil is one of the best supplements for the brain. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, among others, which are known to improve memory and thinking skills.

What improves memory? 

  • Consume less sugary foods and beverages. According to studies, people who eat more sweets than usual have reduced brain volume and poor memory.
  • Supplement your diet with fish oil. DH and EPA are two omega-3 fatty acids that reduce body inflammation, which possibly promotes cognitive decline.
  • Relax and meditate as often as possible. Doing so expands your brain’s gray matter, which also boosts your memory.
  • Make sure that you don’t become obese. Obesity is strongly linked to Alzheimer’s – a disease that worsens your memory progressively.
  • Try to get enough sleep so that your cognitive function will not suffer. The idea is that sleeping at night is always much better than sleeping during the day.
  • Avoid getting drunk all the time. Alcohol is practically toxic for the brain, so it affects your cognitive function negatively.

How do I know if I’m getting dementia? 

  • You are losing your memory more and more.
  • You find it challenging to focus on simple tasks.
  • You get confused about activities that you have always done your entire life.
  • You feel frustrated when you keep forgetting things and become irritable.

What are the seven stages of dementia? 

  • No Impairment: There are no cognitive issues at this point yet.
  • Very Mild Decline: They forget where they have placed various items at home.
  • Mild Decline: The individual cannot remember acquaintances’ names or converse without finding the right words.
  • Moderate Decline: They experience mild memory loss, to the extent that they cannot do basic math or remember their life history.
  • Moderately Severe Decline: The person often feels confused and forgets even their personal details.
  • Severe Decline: They hardly know their loved ones or themselves.
  • Very Severe Decline: It typically occurs when the individual is close to death. They can no longer talk coherently or even remember to chew their food.
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Does stress cause dementia?

Yes, stress causes dementia, among other mental disorders.

Final Thoughts

Accepting that your child has depression is not a walk in the park, especially when you have assumed that their life will be much different from yours. When we brought Mary to a child psychologist, we found out that she felt depressed because kids bullied her. When I asked the mental health professional if it could be because of genetics, she said it was possible, but it was tough to prove that. Regardless of the cause of depression, though, what mattered was making Mary feel loved and wanted so that her sense of self would improve, and the bullies wouldn’t affect her so much in the long run.