Is Depression Genetic? Let’s Explore The Root Causes of Depression

Is Depression Genetic? Let’s Explore The Root Causes of Depression
In the United States, approximately 10% of the population will experience major depressive disorder at some point in their lives. That may not seem like a big percentage, but that’s about 33,653,174 people. Understanding the root causes of depression is crucial in finding effective treatments and support systems. Finding the cause of depression can begin by asking, “Is depression genetic?” Let’s take a closer look and explore how depression is caused and what we can do to combat it.

A Quick Overview of Depression

Some people may think that depression is just feeling sad or crying a lot, but that’s a very simple view that doesn’t quite capture its complexity. It’s more than just feeling bummed that you lost your best pair of shoes or that your favorite sports team lost. It’s a complex mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide.

While everyone experiences situational depression at some point—such as in response to the loss of a loved one, significant life changes, or moving—major depressive disorder (MDD) is a more severe and persistent form of depression. It becomes a disorder when the depressive feelings don’t go away, are disproportionate to the situation, or negatively affect your lifestyle. Symptoms may include:

  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family
  • Little to no interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies
  • And using humor to hide your feelings

Alright, that last one isn’t an official symptom of depression, but given the number of comedians who also suffer from depression, it should at least be considered. With that said, if you or a loved one struggles with any of these symptoms, they should consult with a mental health professional.

The Genetics of Depression

When it comes to genetic studies and answering the question, “Is depression genetic?” identical twins are held as the gold standard since they share 100% of their genes. Studies for depression have shown that if one twin has depression, the other twin is more likely to have it, with a heritability of 40-50%. This figure may be even higher for severe depression.

Adoption studies also support the genetic link. Researchers have observed that adopted children with a biological parent who had depression tend to have a higher rate of depression, even when raised in different environments. While all of these studies may seem like you’re halfway doomed if you’re related to someone with depression, that’s not entirely the case. Heritability doesn’t mean that you’re going to inherit depression. It means you’re more predisposed to it than those who aren’t related to someone with depression.

There is not one single depression gene to blame for the mental illness, but rather a combination of genetic changes that could potentially predispose you to depression. As the science goes, we don’t yet know the exact genes or how many are involved, but other factors could play a larger role. While genetics can make you more likely to develop depression, your environment and lifestyle can greatly affect your mental state and are equally important to consider.

Can Depression Be Prevented?

Depression looks different for every person who experiences it, and sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether it can be cured or prevented. However, there are several ways to manage and reduce the risk of developing depression:


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other therapeutic approaches can help those struggling with depression manage their thoughts and behaviors.

Support System

Establishing a strong support network of friends, family, and professionals can provide essential emotional support.


Antidepressants and other medications can be effective in treating depression.


Regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients can support overall mental health.
It may sound like a broken record – go to therapy, drink water, touch grass. These approaches may not be new information, but when you stay consistent and choose to keep trying your best, it can make a difference. It may not all be at once, but gradually, you’ll be able to turn back one day and see the distance you’ve come.

Helping You Navigate Your Mental Health

At With Behavioral Health, we understand the complexities of depression and are here to help you navigate your mental health journey. Our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers a supportive community where you can share experiences and gain insights with others who are also working to improve their mental health. We also offer cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to help you develop effective coping strategies and heal.

Whether you’re questioning if depression is genetic or not, our team is dedicated to helping you manage and overcome your depression. Reach out to us today to start your path to better mental health.

Schedule Your Appointment Online

It all begins with a conversation. Everyone’s treatment plan is different. Schedule an intake appointment below to speak to with our therapists and learn more about the treatment options available for you.

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Right away, you’ll notice ours is a little bit different from other IOPs.

It’s cozy, comfortable, and the opposite of clinical. This is all very intentional and all for you.

We want to make sure that you have the most comfortable, safest, and most supportive space possible so you can create the space you need to get the most out of your treatment.

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2203 N Lois Ave, Suite 220
Tampa, FL 33607