Is Mental Health Illness Hereditary? Are There Any Genetic Roots?


You might be concerned about developing a mental health issue if you have a strong family history of psychological disorder. You might also worry whether your children will develop a psychological problem if you have one.

Most people questions about developing a mental health condition if their loved ones have a history of psychological disorder. Well, the answer is a bit complicated. Some studies suggest that mental health issues may run in families; however, there is no strong evidence.

Typically, there is no particular gene for developing mental health illness; however, there could be a genetic predisposition.

Dr. Don Mordecai from Kaiser Permanente said, “It’s a complicated picture. When we say an illness is ‘genetic,’ really we’re saying that there’s some component of it that is genetic. Of the [conditions] that have been studied so far for genetic markers, there aren’t any where if you have the gene, you have the illness.”

“What we can definitely see is that there is a genetic predisposition. Genetics can increase your risk, but it’s not a guarantee,” added Dr. Mordecai.

In 2013, Sky News reported a study that said, “Five of the most common psychiatric disorders are genetically linked.” The news was related to the study funded by the National Institute of Health, which examined the genetic roots of five mental health disorders – such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Researchers were able to find genetic variations that were linked to these disorders after looking at the DNA of the participants who were diagnosed with one of these mental health issues. The researchers explained that those genetic variations would not be an effective tool to predict or diagnose these psychological disorders.

Although it is simple to considered mental health issues purely genetic, there is growing evidence that environmental factors do have a role to play, such as stress, poor diet, substance or drug abuse, family issues, divorce, and even death.

Dr. Mordecai said your chances of developing a mental health issue possibly increase if you have a family member who has it. However, it is also important to keep in mind that mental health issue can develop even if you have no family history. Please note that mental health illnesses are complicated. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize the signs and symptoms and seek help right away.