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Understanding Depression in Teens: Is Depression Genetic?

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If more than one member of your family has suffered with depression, you may be wondering whether this mental health disorder is genetic and whether you have passed on your depression or anxiety issues to your children. 

This can be particularly worrying if your child or teenager is already showing signs of depression. 

Unfortunately, studies have shown that genetics may very well play a role in how likely someone is to become depressed and if someone in your family suffers with depression, their children are more likely to develop this condition as well.

That said, genetics is not the full story when it comes to depression in teens and there are several other factors that can affect whether someone becomes depressed. 

If you are worried about your teenager becoming depressed due to their heredities, keep reading to find out more about the link between mental health and genetics. This includes the warning signs to look out for that indicate your teen could be depressed and how you can help them. 

Does depression run in your family?

One of the main factors in determining whether genetics plays a role in the diagnosis of depression in your family is age. If someone within your family shows signs of being depressed before the age of 30, then their other family members, including their children, are more likely to as well. In fact, the younger a person is when they get depression, the more likely it is to be a hereditary condition.

If your teenager is suffering with depression, you need to be proactive in your approach because if left untreated, they could continue to suffer with their mental health for many years to come. You may want to consider residential treatment centers for depression as these facilities often have the best results in terms of long-term recovery. 

Although depression can occur in older people, this is more likely to be caused by a specific event rather than due to genetics. 

What other factors contribute to depression?

As well as genetics, there are several others factors that can contribute to your teen becoming depressed. These include their environment, lifestyle, and individual personal experiences. 

If you suspect that your teen is depressed, this condition may have been caused by one or all the above factors, and you may never fully know whether it is hereditary or not. 

What are the warning signs that your teen is depressed?

If depression runs in your family, it can be useful to know what warning signs you should be looking out for in your teen. The teenage years are notoriously challenging, and it can be difficult to determine the difference between a normal moody and withdrawn teenager and someone who is struggling with their mental health. 

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • Feelings of hopefulness
  • A lack of energy 
  • Anger or aggression 
  • Sudden change in weight 
  • Loss of interest in both relationships and interests 
  • Feelings of guilt 
  • Concentration and memory issues 

How to help your teen avoid depression

If your teen is at risk of developing depression, either because of their genetics or other external factors, there are ways you can help prevent them from developing this serious condition. 

  • Consider therapy (even if they haven’t been diagnosed)
  • Make sure they have a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins 
  • Ensure they get sufficient sleep
  • Teach them mindfulness techniques 
  • Encourage regular exercise 
  • Dissuade negative relationships and influences

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