Health Mental Health

Does Mental Health Illness Run in Famlies

Published at 03/22/2012 00:03:11


Mental health illness is a condition that affects the brain and influences the way you think and the way you behave. It also relates to your environment and your surroundings. The symptoms of mental health illness will range from mild to severe and will depend on the kind of illness that you may have inherited. If a person with mental health illness is not treated properly, he or she will find it difficult to cope with the demands of the daily life routine.

Mental illnesses are caused by a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors. Many mental illnesses run in families as they can be passed down from parents to their children through genes. These genes will influence the cells in our body and will be responsible for how we act, look and think.

The idea that mental health illness tends to run in families is not a new one. Mental illness does have a major impact of genetics. The expression of the disease may require the inheritance of multiple genes. The hereditary source of mental health illness suggests that you are more likely to get the condition than if none of your family members were affected by it. Psychological experts opine that mental conditions are linked to problem in multiple genes and that is the reason why a person may inherit a mental disorder.

People who have a relative with mental health illness have an increased risk of inheriting the condition as well. The likelihood of developing a mental illness may depend on how close the blood relationship is with your relative who has experienced the illness. If your biological parents suffer from mental illness, studies have revealed that there is 15 percent risk that you may also suffer. If your identical twin is suffering, then you have a 50 percent risk. If your second degree relative has the condition, then you have a five percent risk.


It does not come as a surprise that psychiatric ailments have a genetic basis. Every organ in our body is affected by genetics. Hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all examples of conditions that run in families. Physical traits too, such as height, weight and color of eyes have a lot to do with our lineage than any other factor. For example, a son may laugh just like his mother or daughter may inherit her father's temper. So also, psychiatric disorders on account of mental health illness will also run in families the same way that medical disorders do. Conditions like depression, bipolar disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, panic attacks and schizophrenia are examples of mental health illness mostly affected by genetics and are likely to be clustered in families.

Tips and comments

If you have a relative with a mental illness, there is a slim chance that you may also suffer, but that does not mean that you are anyhow going to develop mental health illness yourself. There are ways you can look after your mental health:

  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Improve your learning and knowledge with passion.
  • Sleep well.
  • Avoid unnecessary and excessive stress.
  • Avoid taking of drugs like opium and cannabis as these drugs may increase the risk of psychosis.

Understanding your family's mental health illness history can give you an insight on how the mental health concerns have affected previous generations. This is an illness that can be overcome. With proper care and adequate medication a person with a mental instability can cope with the demands of society and eke out a decent living.



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