Mental Health and Genetics: The Main Connections

Genetics can lead to interesting things: red hair, extra fingers (it’s called polydactyly, and I was born with it- 6 fingers on each hand), certain health conditions, blue eyes, and other things. Can it contribute to mental illness?

The research and debate continue, even as this post is being written. There has been so much research and movement forward in this field- it’s pretty fascinating. To learn more about this, please read Moving Forward: The Last Fifty Years of Psychiatry

Parent and child

My Thoughts

I don’t think genetics is the only thing that causes mental illness- if other events happen, say, any kind of abuse, neglect or other ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) occur, then it increases the chances of a mental illness or at least signs of one, occurring. Any other theory just doesn’t make sense to me.

I also agree with the theory that if you have a parent with a mental illness, there’s a pretty good chance that you may have some traits of said illness. You also may not. I think there’s also something said for personality traits. That’s also a factor.

For example, my oldest niece and nephew’s father has SMI (Severe Mental Illness). He wasn’t able to raise them because of this (and other issues), and my niece struggles with depression. She has also had some very negative events happen in her life and had difficulties dealing with them.

My family has a history of mental illness on both sides, and my dad is a suicide attempt survivor. I lost an uncle to suicide when I was nine years old. I deal with anxiety and depression daily. I’m hoping that none of my kids ever have to deal with this issue. I’ve seen this happen in other families, with tragic results.

DNA pic

What Do The Really Smart People Say?

According to some very intelligent people at The Scientist, there are 10 mental illnesses that have genetic variants that contribute to their development. If these scientists can figure out the variants, they can discover what causes these illnesses, leading to better treatment. This would be an amazing discovery. Millions would benefit.

Some of those listed include:

  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • ADHD
  • autism
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)

This doesn’t necessarily mean a cure, but this means more of an idea on how to help diagnose and treat. These same studies are studying neurological issues like epilepsy, migraines and Alzheimer’s. It was intriguing to read about this research. It’s almost like the researchers are connecting the dots to learn about what is going on inside our brains.

Putting It All Together

According to a study found on NAMI there has been a gene on Chromosome 6 found to be associated with the cause of schizophrenia. This can be a source of relief, I think, to know that it truly isn’t your fault that you have a mental illness.

Those who don’t understand tend to think that you can just “get over it” or that “it’s all in your head”, not stopping to think that it’s out of your control, something that you would never wish for.

As someone with anxiety and depression- I’d never wish this on someone I didn’t like. I know a lot of people with mental illness, and none of us enjoy it. To put it plainly, it sucks.

We take meds, go to therapy, are sometimes hospitalized. We have lost those we love to suicide, have attempted, hate ourselves for the smallest things. It’s a struggle we wish we didn’t have. If there’s research out there that can help us out, I am all for it.

Sticking together

In the cases of autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, there has been a finding of brain cell communication changes in all three conditions. This isn’t saying there are similarities between the three, but that there are bases to the three in the brain.

There is a lot of work being done to find out more about the roots of autism. I’m pretty sure this started some time ago, thanks to the fraudulent study done that stated vaccines cause autism. People want to learn more about autism, mainly about what causes it.

If you want to know my thoughts on that topic, please see The Autism/Vaccine Debate 

The future looks interesting. It looks potentially brighter for millions. I couldn’t begin to know how to do this kind of research, but cheers to these people for dedicating their lives to doing it.

What do you think about this sort of research? Would you benefit from genetic research? 

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay







7 thoughts on “Mental Health and Genetics: The Main Connections

  1. mommatrek says:

    I’ve always believed there was a strong connection between genetics and mental illness. Mostly because A)I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of TEN and B)I found out later that depression and anxiety pretty much run wild through my mom’s side of the family, along with their sad besties drug and alcohol addiction. It’s easy (I think) to be depressed though when you’re poor AF (as most of my mom’s family has always been going back generations) and there’s not really a good way to bootstrap yourself out of poverty.

    I got lucky…I was able to exit the cycle of poverty and get help, whereas my sister (who has dyslexia along with depression and anxiety) hasn’t been. Most of her life, she’s been self-medicating with alcohol and various drugs (both legal and illegal) trying to keep the darkness at bay. She’s been chasing the dragon since the age of 8, when my mom gave her Ritalin because the teachers said she was hyperactive (she wasn’ was misdiagnosed dyslexia, though how you can confuse dyslexia and ADHD is beyond me). It gave her her first high and she’s been chasing it ever since, trying to keep her demons at bay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wraemsanders says:

      It’s rough. I’m not sure addiction runs in my family- my cousin on one side developed an addiction to pain pills but she’s clean now. Idk about my dad’s but mental illness is definitely a thing.

      You make a great point about poverty. It is difficult to get out of and many families remain in it for generations.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mommatrek says:

      From what I’ve found out, my mother’s family was comprised of English and Welsh second/third sons who ended up migrating here because of how inheiritance laws were at the time, making it where they couldn’t inherit any property, etc (all of it went to the eldest son). And they had nothing when they got here and because they came to a very poor area of the country (North Carolina and Tennessee), they were basically stuck. They could eke out their living on farms and that sort of thing, but just barely and they couldn’t pull themselves up out of poverty.


  2. ashleyleia says:

    Identical twin studies are interesting as they show that no mental illness is 100% genetically based, but some (e.g. schizophrenia) seem to have a stronger genetic link than others. There’s still so much to learn about the interaction between genes and environmental factors, and research in this area could do a lot of good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Danica Anne Panganiban says:

    Depression, anxiety and stress, these are the things we Filipinos (Third World Citizens) used to scoff at. We never bother to understand. We never showed mercy to anyone who suffers these conditions and instead, we make fun and joke around it. Either we say someone is so weak or someone is just a nuthouse case. When we hear someone goes to a psychologist or even psychiatrist, we keep our distance. We never knew that it is a normal thing. It’s a shame and a pity what kind of mindset we have but good to read this and good to be educated.

    Liked by 1 person

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