When I asked myself is depression hereditary I had 3 theories before me to choose from.
1. Yes it was hereditary. It was “Nature”. It was in my genes.
2. No it was a result of the environment I grew up in. “Nurture”
3. Or it was a combination of both nature & nurture.
If I was to take on the first belief that would mean that depression was something out of my control. It was something I was born with. This would mean that I would be battling depression most of my life and at best all I could hope for was to somehow learn how to manage depression. I would have to believe that I was for some reason born on this planet a defective incomplete human being. Was I also supposed to believe that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. That I had been born with an anti-depressant deficiency. This whole theory screamed helplessness to me.
The second option told me that my depression was due to my interaction with the environment. It came from the result of my life experiences and the meaning I placed upon those experiences. In short I was battling depression because of my thinking. Although the theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain is a very popular one there is an equally valid opposing theory that says the chemical imbalance is caused by the depression. In fact it may not be an imbalance at all. It may be just the body doing whatever it has too to survive under stressed conditions. This theory gave me hope. It told me that if I could learn how to change my thinking I could take charge of my emotions.
As for the third option well I am an all or nothing kind of guy. This option seemed too much like trying to hedge a bet to me. I had to choose either to believe I could take control of my life or choose to be a helpless casualty of life.
My decision was helped by having grown up with a family member “labeled” with a mental disorder. After over twenty years of first hand observation I had never seen any evidence that medications cured anything. What I did observe though is how powerfully a “label” can effect a persons beliefs about themselves, and how those beliefs can prevent a person from living an empowered and joyous life.
I have never ever regretted for one second the path I chose to follow. The belief that we can change the way we feel by changing the way we think has eventually led me to seeing the world in a whole new way. I now know without a doubt that my depression was not caused by any inherited defect. I was not born with an antidepressant deficiency. My depression was not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Freedom from depression for me came about when I learnt to be the guardian and master of my thoughts.
At my consultancy I teach people to develop emotional intelligence. People learn that they and they alone are the creators of their every emotion. They learn the skills necessary to let go of the past and begin to let themselves follow their dreams.
So the answer to “Is depression hereditary” is an answer you must find within yourself. Remember that the answers given to you by the “Experts” are only theories. Do not allow your self to confuse the word cause with correlation. We are too lazy in our thinking and do not critically analyse enough the words that come out of the mouths of a perceived expert.
The statement “Studies have shown a link between depression and genetic factors” is showing correlation not cause. Correlation is the tendency for two values or variables to change together, in either the same or opposite way. The word tendency basically means most times but not always. If you were to carry 100 studies on the possible link between depression and genetics, you only need two to come back showing positive correlation for the above statement to be absolutely 100% true. The fact that the other 98 studies may have shown no correlation does not make the statement untrue in anyway. They only need 2 studies to come back in their favour because it allows them to use the plural of the word study in the sentence.
So choose your beliefs wisely. Do they mean a life of managing depression. A life of battling depression. Or do they mean a life of self empowerment.