Is Depression Genetic?

It’s time to a look back through history, call grandma, or read old diary entries and ask yourself: does depression run in my family?

It turns out that there is a genetic connection in roughly 50 percent of depression cases—recent studies have isolated a specific gene that is prevalent in multiple family members with depression. But even with this pattern, researchers don’t believe that one gene is completely responsible for depression.


If depression runs in a family, it does mean that every person in future generations will live with depression—they are simply more susceptible to it. However, if the parents have depression, their kids are three times more likely to have it as well, whether it is brought on by genetics or environmental factors. If the parents experienced depression before age 20, the likelihood of their children being depressed increases four-and fivefold. It can also run across multiple generations, from great-grandparents to grandkids.

External Factors

In the other half of the cases, depression is caused by non-genetic factors (psychological and physical). Genes are not always the number one (or only) cause of a person’s depression. Environmental factors, such as relationships, school, and work can also heighten depression or make symptoms more severe.


Image jbstafford

For Parents

If you or anyone in your family (other than your children) has depression or has experienced it in the past, it is worth noting and keeping in mind that your child will be more susceptible to the illness. Talk to your teen about the family history and keep an open dialogue running about their mental health. This way, you can manage it from early stages symptoms worsen. Having an open and healthy relationship with your teen can also reduce stress in their lives and decrease the chances of them developing depression.

Featured image Nathan O’Nions