Diagnosing And Treating Depression
There’s no physical test for depression.
If you experience depression symptoms most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks, you should visit your GP. This is especially important if:
- you have symptoms of depression that aren’t getting any better
- you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- your work, relationships with friends and family, or interests are affected by your mood
It can be hard for people with depression to imagine that anything can help them but the sooner you seek help, the sooner the symptoms start to get better.
Your GP may examine you and perform blood or urine tests to make sure there isn’t another condition causing your depression symptoms, like an underactive thyroid.
When you see your GP, they’ll try to find out if you have depression by asking you questions. These are likely to be about your health, how you’re feeling, and how that is affecting you mentally and physically.
Telling your doctor your symptoms and the affect they are having on you will help your GP to tell if you have depression, and how severe the condition is. It’s important to be as open as possible.
Your conversation with your GP will be confidential. This rule can only be broken if your GP thinks there is a significant risk of harm to you or others, and that telling a family member or carer would make that risk lower.
Stress As A Cause Of Depressive Disorders
Chronic stress and stressful life events early in life are strong proximal predictors of the onset of depression. Although the response to stress implies stability or maintenance of homeostasis, long-time activation of the stress system can cause harmful or even fatal consequences by elevating the risk of obesity, heart diseases, depression, and other disorders . The Hypothalamicpituitaryadrenal axis and its three main componentshypothalamic neurosecretory cells, pituitary gland, and adrenal cortexare responsible for adaptation to changed environmental conditions and for mobilization of the organism’s reserves during exposure to stress of different etiologies. The HPA system operates in the following way .1). In response to a stressor, neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular nuclei secrete corticotropin-releasing hormone , which exerts its action on the hypophysis to initiate the release into the blood circulation of adrenocorticotropic hormone , which stimulates the release of corticosteroids, particularly cortisol, from the adrenal cortex. The final hormonal product of the HPA axis, cortisol, binds to mineralocorticoid receptors and glucocorticoid receptors to form hormonereceptor complexes, which are then transported into the cell nucleus where they interact with specific DNA regions, the glucocorticoid-response elements, to activate the expression of hormone-dependent genes .
Nature Vs Nurture: How Environment Impacts Ones Risk Of Developing Depression
Although certain genes have been linked to depression, its still possible to develop depression even if you dont have a family member with the condition. A study published in 2018 observed more than two million offspring in Sweden across multiple generations to find correlations in patterns of depression among families. The study found that a childs environment influences the risk of developing depression just as much as inherited genetic factors.
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Can The Risk For Suicide Be Inherited
There is growing evidence that familial and genetic factors contribute to the risk for suicidal behavior. Major psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism and substance abuse, and certain personality disorders, which run in families, increase the risk for suicidal behavior. This does not mean that suicidal behavior is inevitable for individuals with this family history it simply means that such persons may be more vulnerable and should take steps to reduce their risk, such as getting evaluation and treatment at the first sign of mental illness.
How Parental Depression Affects Children
There is also evidence that growing up with a parent or caregiver who has depression can take a toll on a childs mental health and well-being. The condition can influence many different aspects of parenting, including how caregivers interact with their kids.
Depressed parents may interact with their kids less or in more negative ways. For example, they may be more critical of their children or may be less likely to respond to their children’s needs.
The social isolation that is also characteristic of depression can also extend its effects to kids, decreasing a child’s contact with supportive people outside of the family. Some research suggests that having a parent with depression increases a childs risk of later developing depression themselves. Research has found that:
- Infants with depressed mothers may cry more frequently or at a greater intensity.
- Children with depressed parents may have more behavioral problems.
- Kids with depressed parents are more likely to show signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .
- Children with depressed parents are also more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
Parental depression may also contribute to higher substance-abuse rates among adolescents, poorer social relationships, and worse school performance.
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Is Depression Genetic Here’s What Experts Have To Say
If your parent or sibling had depression, maybe you’re worried you’ll get it too. Or perhaps you’re concerned that because you had depression, you’ll pass it on to your child. Whatever the case, you may find yourself wondering: Is depression genetic?
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the US. About one out of every six adults will have depression at some time in their life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can become depressed, regardless of their age, gender, race, or background.
There is evidence that depression can run in families, suggesting that genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing depression, Natalie Dattilo, PhD, director of psychology services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, tells Health. Research is in early stages, though, and much is still unknown about the genetic basis of the condition. Studies suggest that variations in many genes, rather than one single gene, combine to increase the risk of developing depression.
Depression can be caused by a number of factors, says Dattilo. “When I’m working with people to help them understand where their depression came from, we think about it from a biopsychosocial perspective,” she says. “That’s biological, psychological, and social. All of those things need to be considered.”
What Is Major Depressive Disorder
Depression is an umbrella term for a range of depressive disorder subtypes. While the disease itself is difficult to endure, it also raises a persons risk for other health issues such as heart disease and dementia. Depression symptoms can manifest differently for each patient. The most common types of depression disorders are major depressive disorder, dysthymia, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Also, women are at higher risk of developing a depressive disorder than men. There are specific clinical subtypes that are unique to women, including PMDD, and perinatal and postnatal depression. The different subtypes of depression also have different triggers for the disorder. For example, extreme changes in weather patterns that persist can trigger SAD. Most people with SAD will develop the disease during the dark, dreary winter months. But a minority of patients will experience SAD during spring and summer.
In major depression, the state of hopelessness, guilt, and low-self worth is an all-consuming feeling that is also characterized by a marked loss in pleasure and motivation. Episodes of major depression can last as little as two weeks to several months. People who experience one event of depression and are not treated for the disorder are at increased risk of recurrence and experiencing longer, more drastic episodes in the future. The symptoms of major depressive disorder include the following:
- Suicidal ideation and attempts
Does Tourettes Run In Families
Dozens of readers had questions about Tourette syndrome, the odd and poorly understood disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and vocalizations, after the disorder was profiled in a recent Patient Voices series. Here, Dr. Robert A. King and Dr. James F. Leckman of the Yale School of Medicine respond to readers wondering whether Tourettes is inherited and how common the disorder is.
Is Tourettes Inherited?
My daughter is engaged to someone with Tourettes. I worry about their children inheriting Tourettes. What is the likelihood of that occurring?Anonymous, San Francisco
Tourettes probably has genetic determinants, but they may vary from family to family. When a parent has Tourettes, sons have a higher risk of inheriting the condition than do daughters. On average, about 20 percent of male offspring will have Tourettes, compared with only about 5 percent of female offspring. The rates for a chronic motor tic disorder are a bit higher: 30 percent of the sons and about 9 percent of the daughters will have such a condition. In contrast, the rates are reversed for obsessive-compulsive disorder, which sometimes accompanies Tourettes, with 7 percent of sons and 15 percent of daughters developing symptoms of O.C.D. These are all approximate figures.
A brochure on the genetics of Tourettes is available for a modest fee at the Tourette Syndrome Association Web site.
How Common Is Tourettes?
Breaking Down Major Risk Factors For Depression
While there is certainly a familial link for depression, having a history of depression isnât an end-all, be-all for your future. Mental health is extremely complex and is determined by a variety of factors, making it nearly impossible to pinpoint or control your likelihood of experiencing depression. However, there are a number of thingsâthat may be related to your familyâs health or lifestyleâthat can increase your risk of depression:
- Experiencing trauma as a child
- Social isolation or having few close relationships
- Suffering from a serious medical condition, like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes
- Living with chronic pain
- Taking certain medications
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
To minimize your risk, itâs important to take on a healthy lifestyle. Active lifestyles, healthy diets, and comfortable relationships with others can help minimize stress and decrease your risk of depression over time.
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Genetic Factors Contributing To Depression
There isnt just one gene that contributes to depressionin one study, researchers identified 269 genes associated with the development of depression. Moreover, there may be a genetic component to how well a person will respond to depression treatment , including whether a person will be resistant to treatment . However, more research is needed to fully understand this relationship.
An article published in 2011 in Current Psychiatry Reports reviews past research studies that aimed to identify genetic risk factors for depression. This article acknowledges the impact that genetics has on depression. Depression rates were said to be two to three times higher among people who had a first degree relative with the condition. For example, if you have a father, mother, or sibling that has been diagnosed with depression, you are two to three times more likely to develop depression at some point in your life.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Reduce My Risk For Depression
Depression often stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain, so there are no surefire ways to prevent it. However, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk and help keep it at bay. Lifestyles changes can play an important role in both reducing symptoms when they do occur, as well as helping to prevent episodes altogether. In general, you can make yourself more resilient to depression by reducing stress and creating a healthy mindset. Following are some practical tips:
Depression does run in families. However, by being proactive you can reduce your risk of developing the disorder or at least keep symptoms to a minimum if they do occur. Its never too soon to start managing your stress and building a foundation for good mental health.
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The Leaders In Tms Annapolis Break Down The Nature Vs Nurture Link
Weâve probably all heard the phrase âdepression runs in my familyâ before. Itâs trueâpeople whose parents have depression do tend to also be depressed. One overview of multiple studies suggests a two- to three-times increase in lifetime risk of developing major depressive disorder among first-degree relatives. But the leaders in TMS Annapolis suggest that the answer to this question is much more complex than a simple yes or no.
If youâre familiar with the nature vs. nurture debate in psychology â one in which people debate whether your upbringing actually weighs in on your personality or if itâs entirely predetermines â the same type of grey-area answer exists. Studies suggest that there are genetic predispositions for depression in addition to environmental factors, but researchers have not pinpointed the singular link between that leads to intergenerational depression.
This conclusion doesnât come from a lack of research either. A number of studies have been conducted, including one studying identical twins that shows that there is not a single gene that codes for depression. Additionally, a number of studies have shown that a parentâs stress, anxiety, and reactiveness can lead to an increase in depression in children.
How To Protect Children From Your Depression
“With the right support, depressed moms can still be excellent parents,” Dr. Beardslee says. Here are essential steps to take.
Get professional help. The best thing you can do for your family is to seek treatment, whether its antidepressant medication, therapy, or both. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional for more information.
Count on your spouse . When the other parent is actively involved, it reduces the risk that a child will develop low self-esteem or have problems in school, says David J. Diamond, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in San Diego. For mothers with PPD, hiring a baby-sitter and other household help, if you’re able, can be crucial.
Discuss it with your children. Children are often left out of any discussion of depression, and yet they’re forced to live through all the disruptions caused by it, Dr. Beardslee points out. It’s crucial that a child understands that he is not to blame. You might say, “I’ve been crying and yelling a lot, but it isn’t your fault. It’s because I have a sickness, but I’m getting treatment for it, and I’m going to get better.” There’s no need to use the word depression with a child younger than 7 or 8. With older children, you can compare depression to a medical illness they’re more familiar with. Whatever your child’s age, let him know he should feel free to ask questions.
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Having Family Members With Mental Illnesses Isn’t A Guarantee That You’ll Develop One Too But There Are A Few Important Ways To Prepare For The Possibility
Theres no blood test that determines whether or not youre carrying a gene that increases your risk for a certain mental health condition, Dr. Abbasi says. You simply need to know your family history.
So the first step, of course, is encouraging your older family members to be open about any mental health issues they have dealt with or that their family members may have experienced. Considering the stigma mental illness has had in the past and still has today, it’s understandable that your parents or older family members may not feel particularly comfortable talking about it. But treat mental illness like you would any other health conditionlike heart disease or cancerand specifically ask about it when discussing your family’s medical history with them.
And, as with those other conditions, having as much detail as possible about the mental illnesses that run in your family is crucial. “You have to understand your risk and gather as much information as you can, like what illness runs in your family, how it presents, and how severe it has been,” Dr. Abbasi says. Having that awareness is half the battle.
And finally, it doesnt hurt to think about next steps, Dr. Abbasi says. Indeed, it’s helpful to have a plan in place for what you’ll do and which mental health professionals you’ll talk to if you do start to notice any symptoms in yourself or your children.
Is Depression Hereditary
Depression is one of the most common and serious illnesses in the world, but sadly also the most mysterious. Experts still do not know what causes the illness, how to diagnose it physically, or treat it effectively. However, we can garner important information by studying depression in families.
First of all, we know that depression runs in families, which implies the influence of particular genes that may render an individual vulnerable to the illness. However, genes are just part of the picture. A child not only inherits genes he or she inherits a family. Very often, families with mental or behavioral disorders are also families in which there exists a considerable amount of dysfunction. That implies the influence of environment as well as genes.
Indeed, population studies reveal that depression is more likely to occur in homes where abuse and conflict are persistent. Further research has shown that individuals who come from an environment rife with emotional conflict suffer more severe forms of depression and are less likely to respond to existing medications or treatments.
So the next question is: How does this occur? How is it that the experience of the family might become embedded, literally, in the biology of an individual and render them more vulnerable to depression?
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