Can Depression Be Inherited?

Can Depression Be Inherited?

Can depression be inherited? I was just wondering because I have depression, along with my mom, sister, and aunts.
- Shane*

A person might feel depressed for many reasons, and sometimes genetics plays a role. Having parents or other family members who are depressed can increase the likelihood that someone may become depressed. But even when depression may be partly due to an inherited tendency, it usually takes a combination of factors for a person to develop depression.

Stressful events, family conflict, big disappointments, or grief can all trigger depression. Relationships with people who criticize more than they show affection can lead to depression because they may teach a girl or guy to become self-critical and to feel inadequate, two feelings often associated with depression. For some girls, hormonal changes might play a role in depression and irritable moods. And in some people, certain medical conditions can cause low energy and a depressed mood.

It's important to remember, though, that having family members with depression does not necessarily mean that someone will become depressed. And people with no family history can become depressed, too.

Whatever the contributing factors may be, depression is a very treatable condition. If you feel depressed or are concerned, discuss your symptoms with a health professional who can evaluate you and recommend treatment. If you ever feel extremely depressed or like you might hurt yourself, get help immediately.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2012

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationNational Mental Health Association (NMHA) NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research, and service.
OrganizationDepression and Bipolar Support Alliance The mission of this group is to educate patients, families, professionals, and the public about depressive and manic-depressive illnesses.
OrganizationAmerican Psychological Association (APA) The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.
Web SiteCenter for Mental Health Services (CMHS) CMHS is a federal agency that provides information about mental health to users of mental health services, their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media.
Related Articles
Am I Depressed or Just Not Trying? Find out what the experts have to say.
Finding Low-Cost Mental Health Care If you need mental health care but don't think you can afford it, you're not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.
When Depression Is Severe Severe depression can cloud a person's thinking and lead some people to think that life isn't worth living. But severe depression can be treated. Find out what to do and how to get help in this article for teens.
Why Do People Get Depressed? There's no one reason why people get depressed - many different things can play a role. Find out more about the things that can trigger depression.
Talking to Parents About Depression If you feel depressed, you need to reach out for help and support. Read our tips for teens on talking to parents about depression.
5 Ways to Fight Depression It's important to take action against depression - it doesn't just go away on its own. In addition to getting professional help, here are 5 ways to feel better.
Developments Developments
Sign up for enewsletter
Get involved Get involved
Discover ways to support Akron Children's