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Is Depression Passed Down Through Family?

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Major depressive disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in the United States. According to data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.8%, or 19.4 million adults in the United States, have had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. About 5.3% of adults, or 13.1 million people, have had at least one major depressive episode that has caused severe impairment in the last year. Major depression can make daily life tasks and getting along with other people difficult. 

What Does Depression Look Like?

Common signs of depression include the following: 

  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless most days 
  • Feeling a loss of pleasure or interest in doing things that you once enjoyed
  • Fatigue and loss of overall energy
  • Changes in sleep, such as insomnia (not being able to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Changes in appetite, such as eating too much or eating too little 
  • Difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate and excessive guilt  
  • Recurrent thoughts of death

Depression is more than just an intense feeling of sadness. Depression is classified as having multiple symptoms for 2 weeks or longer. Typically, symptoms last many months and, for some people, years. Each person will experience depression differently, as well. For example, one individual may not have the feelings of being down, depressed, or hopeless, but they may notice a loss of pleasure or interest in doing things as well as other symptoms. This is still classified as depression, but notably experienced differently. 

The symptoms together can affect day-to-day tasks and activities. For example, some people experiencing depression may neglect their hygiene or household chores more often. They may also notice decreased performance at work or school, likely because they have a lack of drive or feel fatigued due to the depressive symptoms. Individuals also often notice their interpersonal relationships being impacted either because they are isolating themselves because they’re not interested in activities, or because they are irritable and having difficulty getting along with others. People with depression may also frequently seem “out of it” or “spacey” because of lack of sleep, low energy, and having difficulty concentrating. 

What are the Causes of Depression?

There are many different things that can contribute to someone developing depression. Factors that can contribute to depression can be biological, psychological, and/or environmental. Some factors that have been associated with increased risk of depression include the following: 

  • A chemical imbalance in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that is associated with depression. When the brain is not using enough serotonin, it can cause increased levels of depression. This is why SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are used to treat depression. They cause the brain to use more serotonin, which can relieve depressive symptoms for many people. 
  • Genetics. Depression can have a genetic factor. If a family member has depression, it does not mean that you will automatically develop it late in life too. Rather, it means that you may be more vulnerable to developing depression at some point in your life because you are genetically predisposed to it. 
  • Stressful life events. Stressful events such as the loss of a loved one, family discord, heartbreak, loss of friendships, health issues, and more can also cause depression. 
  • Maladaptive thought patterns. People who have negative thought patterns, are self-critical, and have low self-esteem are more likely to develop depression. 
  • Using alcohol and drugs. While people sometimes claim that using certain drugs or alcohol helps them relax and calm down, it actually, over time, can increase levels of depression in many people who abuse drugs. 
  • Loneliness. Feelings of loneliness can increase the risk of developing depression. 

How to Find Depression Treatment Centers

Thrive Treatment offers comprehensive services to clients experiencing mental health or substance use concerns. We have expert clinicians available that provide case management services, individual therapy, group therapy, and incorporation of family support. Each client has an individualized treatment plan unique to their recovery. We offer different levels of care, including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, sober living houses, and aftercare. Contact us today to find out how we can help you through your recovery!

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