Are Mental Health Issues Genetic?

If you’ve ever wondered if mental health issues are genetic, the answer is maybe. Oftentimes, certain mental health issues have a genetic or hereditary component. If you’re concerned that your family members might have a mental health diagnosis, look for some common signs.

The symptoms of many mental health diagnoses can run in families and “run in the blood”. This means that there may be a genetic component to these conditions and that if you have a family history of them, then you’re more likely to develop them yourself.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health report, around 25% of US adults (ages 18 and above) and approximately 13% of US children (ages 8 to 15) are diagnosed with a mental condition each year.

Some researchers suggest that mental health disorders can run in families. However, they don’t fully understand why or how it can be passed on to family members. Other than genetics, there can be different reasons that can cause mental health issues.

is mental health hereditary

Diagnosing Mental Health Disorder

Doctors diagnose mental illnesses based on the signs and symptoms of the individual patient. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), is used by doctors. No genetic testing can be used to confirm a mental illness diagnosis. Because experiences and environment play a significant role in the development of mental disorders, no genetic test can accurately predict who will or will not have a mental condition.

What Causes Mental Health Issues?

Most mental diseases are caused by a mix of hereditary and environmental factors. It is referred to as multifactorial inheritance. Many other prevalent medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and asthma, are multifactorial.

Environmental Factors

Your surroundings, behaviors, and stressful or traumatic situations are all variables that lead to mental health issues.

Being regularly exposed to violence, abuse, neglect, and having a difficult childhood are all significant contributors to mental disorders. A child with traumatic experiences in the first three years of life can be more prone to developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

The teenage years are often when many mental health issues go undetected and untreated. Many school shooters and college students have been found to have severe mental health issues that may have been overlooked in their young adult years.

Emotional Trauma

Sexual assault, domestic violence, and bullying can severely affect mental health. Despite these painful experiences, most adults will not speak out against the person or persons who caused them emotional trauma.

Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are decisive factors in mental health. People who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event are more likely to develop PTSD. Examples of traumatic events include the death of a loved one, natural disasters, war, etc. PTSD is still considered one of the most underdiagnosed forms of mental illness today according to World Psychiatry.

Inherited Factors

Hereditary factors comprise 17-28 percent of the total variance of mental health issues across people. These include variations in genes, such as Huntington’s disease, and mental disorders related to the nervous system, such as Tourette syndrome. A person is believed to inherit the traits of either being mentally healthy or mentally ill.

There are multiple classes of psychiatric disorders that are physically passed on through genetics. The most notable type is bipolar disorder, which can be a genetic vulnerability among families. 

Epigenetics Regulation

Epigenetics influence how a person reacts to environmental variables and whether or not that person develops a mental condition. As a result, a gene is not constantly “on” or “off.” The correct balance of environmental stimuli and epigenetic regulation must be present for a mental illness to emerge.

Genetic Polymorphisms

Genetic polymorphisms are variations in an individual’s DNA that can be inherited. These variations can affect a person’s health and appearance, and some polymorphisms are known to be associated with various diseases. By understanding the genetic polymorphisms relevant to your health, you can take action to minimize the risk of developing these diseases. 

Polymorphisms are rare changes in the DNA and may contribute to the production of a psychiatric disorder. An excellent example of this is one form of schizophrenia. This polymorphism occurs in approximately 6 percent of people and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Are mental health issues genetic

Are mental health issues genetic

Will YOU Be Facing Mental Health Issues If YOUR Family Member Has One?

Sometimes several members of a family have the same mental disorder. In other instances, only one family member has a mental disease. If you have any mental health problems, you might be worried if you’d pass them on to your children or your siblings.

Most people who suffer from mental illnesses do not have relatives who suffer from the same condition. However, evidence indicates that mental diseases may run in families.

Suppose other family members have the same mental condition then an individual’s likelihood of developing the same mental disease increases. Even though a mental disorder runs in the family, there may be significant variances in the intensity of symptoms amongst family members.

It means that one family member may have a moderate instance of a mental condition. In contrast, another might have a more severe case. On the other hand, mental illnesses do not follow traditional inheritance patterns.

Considerations You want to take for Your Family

If you have a mental condition and want to create a family, you should consult with a certified genetics counselor. A doctor can recommend you to a genetic counselor if you wish to consult with one. As a result, you should consult your primary care physician or a psychiatrist.

Mental illnesses may run in families, but that doesn’t guarantee that you or someone in your family will get ill.

Mental health is an important topic, and even if you don’t have a family history of mental illness, it’s essential to take care of your mental health. 


Many people are affected by mental health problems, both directly and indirectly. Although there is evidence of a genetic basis for specific psychiatric disorders, this does not mean a person is predestined to develop one. 

Mental health problems arise from a complex interplay of environmental and genetic factors. They are influenced by age, sex, cultural background, and societal issues. Treatment of mental health problems has tremendous potential to improve quality of life, even if they do not cure the problem entirely.

Now that you understand how are mental health issues are genetic, let’s explore another interesting blog post about unusual psychological disorders click here.

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