Is Mental Illness Hereditary?

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Is Mental Illness Hereditary?

Mental illness has become increasingly common for people in the United States to experience. Whether that’s from a recent uptick in awareness (resulting in more opportunities for diagnoses) or cases are genuinely more prevalent than ever, some form of mental illness affects one in five adults throughout the nation – and those cases can range anywhere from slightly inconvenient to entirely debilitating. Medical researchers have posed the question: “Is mental illness hereditary?”, and in many cases, they’ve found that psychiatric disorders indeed tend to run in families. Whether that’s environmental, genetic, or some combination of both, there are quite a few factors that come into play when determining the true source of mental illness.

Is mental illness genetic?

When wondering: “Is mental illness genetic?”, there’s really no easy answer or explanation.  Scientists have explored the topic extensively, but with so many different types of mental disorders affecting people at a wide range, it’s been incredibly difficult to pin down one universal cause. Still, many experts believe that mental illness genetic factors can have a major influence on someone’s psychiatric development: i.e., if someone in your family suffers from a mental illness, you may be more likely to develop that same disorder down the line. However, a family history of mental illness genetic lineage doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to suffer the same fate. Other things can have a powerful impact on mental health, like environment, trauma, or learned behavior. 

Is mental wellness genetic?

While some people seem to consistently struggle with mental illness, others make contentment look easy, essentially begging the question: “Is mental wellness genetic?” Just like it’s difficult to determine the cause of mental illness, it’s equally difficult to figure out whether or not someone is mentally well because of their environment, the efforts they put into their mental health routine, or simple genetics. Mental wellness genetic factors might make a difference in whether or not someone suffers from mental illness, but in general, today’s four in five mentally well people might attribute their healthier state of mind to an increase in awareness. Although mental illness has become more common (or more commonly talked about) in recent years, the uptick in conversation surrounding the topic has had a powerfully positive effect. The first step to any form of healing is acceptance, and when more people are conscious of mental health risks and how they might be affected, they’re also more likely to be able to recognize what they’re struggling with and what they can do to change their state of mind.

Is mental illness treatable?

The mind is a powerful entity, and with an increase in awareness around mental health and mental wellness genetic factors, there are more solutions available when it comes to treating mental illness. While we may not know the answer to the question: “Is mental illness hereditary?”, we do have a general idea of how to treat it and make life a little easier for those who are suffering. Depending on what sort of mental illness you’re working with, there are a variety of treatment options available, ranging in severity. Here are some of the most common and successful forms of mental health treatment that people tend to turn to:

  • Alternative Medicine

Depending on your needs, alternative medicine can be complementary to another treatment plan, or an approach that stands on its own. This might include dietary supplements – like mushrooms, kava, or omega-3s – or movement therapies like yoga or meditation. Alternative medicine can also describe psychotropic herbs or other natural remedies, like cannabis, psilocybin, or ketamine. In general, people opt for alternative medicine if they prefer natural approaches, and want to avoid potential side effects that often accompany prescription medications. However, there are limited studies available for alternative medicine approaches and the type of effect they might have on someone in a long-term capacity. 

  • Case Management

Mental health case management describes community-based services designed to provide mental health care that is tailored to an individual patient’s needs.  This approach aims to decrease cases of hospitalization, and approach mental health from a lens that is intuitive, thorough, and much more cost-effective than other treatment plans. Case management might include housing, transportation, employment, group and/or community participation, and its own form of and access point for healthcare. 

  • Hospitalization

In more extreme cases of mental illness, a patient might need to be hospitalized in order to access the best form of treatment for their situation. Most people with mental illness won’t need to utilize hospitalization, but it can be a valuable option for those in need of intensive care. But before going down this route, make sure you’ve properly assessed the situation. Being hospitalized for mental illness can be an extreme, long-term process, and if it isn’t going to be in yours or your loved one’s best interest, the stay could result in resentment, trauma, or worsening of symptoms in the long-run. However, if the patient in question is at risk of hurting themselves or others, there’s no need to think twice about hospitalization – at that point, it’s probably a necessary move.

  • Medication

There are quite a few medications available for treating mental illness hereditary (or non-hereditary) symptoms, but keep in mind they can come with a variety of side effects – and they may or may not give you the outcome you’re looking for. When it comes to medication, there is no one-size-fits-all for mental illness – especially with a variety of recognized mental afflictions a person might suffer from. For example, one form of medication might work wonders for a patient with depression, but it might do nothing at all for someone with mild depression and severe anxiety. The most important thing to keep in mind when trying out new medication is patience as a virtue: it can take a while for you and your medical professionals to find the right concoction for your needs, but it might just be worth it once you’ve discovered the perfect fit. It’s also important to keep possible side effects in mind, as most medications for mental illness can come with a wide variety of them. If the benefits of your medication plan aren’t outweighing the inconvenience of its side effects, it might be time to try another treatment approach. 

  • Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is an increasingly popular treatment option for those suffering from mental illness. With psychotherapy, a patient is given the time and space to work through their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a safe environment with a healthcare professional. It can either be accompanied by prescribed medication or not, and there are several different forms of therapy available for patients in need, but it is a highly effective route for those looking for a solution. Similar to the medication-only route, one possible drawback with the therapeutic approach is the length of time it might take to find the right fit. Talking through your issues with someone you trust can be powerfully effective, but if you’re paired with the wrong healthcare professional, it can actually do more harm than good. It’s important to shop around when finding a psychotherapist – especially if it’s your first time in therapy. It doesn’t hurt to do a little digging in order to figure out what you’re most comfortable with. 

  • Support Groups

Are you looking for a less formal approach to your mental health? A support group might be the best option for you. Support groups consist of people who typically aren’t mental health professionals, but rather peers who are also struggling with mental illness and looking to connect with one another for venting, sharing tips, and supporting one another in the journey towards mental wellness. If your mental illness isn’t considered severe or endangering, a support group can be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals on a casual, anecdotal basis. It’s important to remember that we’re never alone in life, and sometimes all you need in your self-care journey is some kind, empathetic ears who are willing to listen and relate. 

  • Self-Care Plans

For less severe cases of mental illness – or someone who’s undergone a more severe treatment plan and is ready to graduate to long-term, maintenance-fueled care – self-care plans are important to build according to your needs and keep in mind on a daily basis. Mental illness can be a life-long struggle – and even if it isn’t, we can all benefit from a self-care schedule that prioritizes wellness, balance, and harmony. This can look like carving out a little time each day for yoga, meditation, or gratitude journaling, keeping ongoing therapy appointments, or knowing how to identify and avoid your triggers. Whatever your self-care plan consists of, make sure it’s something that is enjoyable, effective, and realistic to maintain.

  • Creative Therapy

Another powerful option for mental health management is creative therapy: a.k.a., therapy that allows a patient to express themselves artistically. This can look like playing music, drawing, painting, writing, or dancing. Creative therapy is effective because of the confidence it tends to instill: not only is the patient provided an outlet for their struggles, but they’re honing a skill along the way that allows them to feel empowered and independent.

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