Wondering if mental illness in families is something you have to worry about? Whether you’re trying to start a family of your own or wonder about why you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, it’s perfectly natural to wonder about whether or not mental illness runs in families. Find out more about statistics of mental illness in families and if you have anything to be concerned about with your future plans in this article.
Some Statistics About Mental Illness in Families
While there are still some things we don’t know about why or how mental illness is caused, we do know that there is a link between family members when it comes to mental health issues. Some of the things that are true about mental illness and family genetics include:
- mental illness can run in families
- we don’t fully understand the reason why mental illness is passed down by family members
- genes aren’t the only reason family members may have similar mental health issues
- there are ways that may help prevent the spread of mental health issues if you’re worried about passing down these conditions to future generations
Do I Have to Worry About Mental Health Issues Running in My Family?
It depends. Studies show that certain mental health issues run in families more prevalent than others. For example, depression disorders, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Although, while there are many studies, each study shows different numbers and different chances of these conditions running in families. And, while these types of disorders may run in families, other mental health issues show even less likelihood of these issues running in families.
The Causes of Mental Illnesses Running in Families
When mental illness is passed along to family members, it is believed to be caused by genetics. This is known as a hereditary mental health condition. However, we don’t fully understand why or how these genetics affect other family members. And, we do know that there are other causes for mental health issues to develop. So, just because someone in your family has the same mental health issue you may have been diagnosed with, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been passed on to you genetically.
Other causes of mental health issues can include:
- stressful events
- traumatic experiences
- environmental factors
- substance abuse
- and more
Ways to Prevent Hereditary Mental Illness
Are you afraid that you may develop a mental health issue because a family member has recently been diagnosed? Or, are you worried that you may pass down a mental health condition when you want to start planning a family of your own? Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ensure that you and your family remain mentally healthy and don’t develop mental health issues down the road.
Specifically, genetic specialists can help to determine your specific chance of passing on or developing a mental health condition as a result of genetics. These specialists can help you make more informed decisions about starting a family and may make you feel better about the chance of you passing down a condition you may have been diagnosed with.
Furthermore, there are things you can do to take care of yourself so that you can reduce the risk of passing down mental health issues or developing one a family member may have been diagnosed with. These things include:
- practicing mindfulness (yoga, nature walks, meditation, journaling, etc.)
- establishing and maintaining a healthy diet
- getting the proper amount of sleep and maintaining a healthy sleep regimen
- having a regular exercise routine
- maintaining a supportive community and reaching out for help
- reducing stress by practicing helpful coping techniques
- neglecting the use and abuse of addictive substances
- focusing on learning something new and useful
- getting help when experiencing mental health symptoms