Is Mental Illness Genetic?

If someone in your family suffers from a mental illness, you may be wondering if you could develop the same condition as well. For example, if your mother or father suffers from a mental health condition, you may be concerned about developing it too. While mental illness is not always inherited, mental health conditions can be genetic. Specifically, only certain mental health conditions run in the family. Some of these conditions include depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. 

While researchers do not fully understand what causes mental illness, some of these conditions are passed on genetically. When a condition is passed on in a family through genes, it is referred to as a “hereditary” illness. For example, the chances of developing a mental illness could increase depending on yours and your relative’s genes. However, environmental factors also cause mental health conditions to develop. To explain, stressful life events or even feelings of loneliness cause the development of mental illness. Therefore, mental illness can be genetic, however, it can also form due to an individual’s environmental factors.

Which Mental Health Conditions Are Commonly Inherited Genetically?

Finding out whether or not your loved one’s mental illness can be inherited is extremely important for a number of reasons. First, this helps individuals with disorders understand where their condition may come from. Second, it may help parents to understand their children’s behavior early on. On the other hand, some individuals use this information to make informed choices on whether they want to have children. Moreover, finding out which disorders are genetically inherited helps individuals to feel less isolated or bizarre. Whatever the reasoning may be, learning about the mental health conditions with a genetic basis helps individuals to find recovery resources and treatment options. 

The following four mental health conditions have been found as hereditary illnesses. While other conditions may be passed genetically, these conditions are proven to pass through families genetically by years of research.

1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder was found to be a genetic illness in 2000. To explain, this research found a strong connection between having a family member with OCD and developing it yourself, usually at a young age. Additionally, in 2010 research found chromosomes that are possibly responsible for OCD. Therefore, OCD is a mental health condition known for running in families. However, OCD can also be developed as a result of environmental factors. As a result, individuals who suffer from the symptoms of OCD should always seek professional help to receive an official and accurate diagnosis. 

2. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complicated and difficult condition to recover from. However, recovery is possible with a combination of therapy, medication management, and support. Furthermore, schizophrenia includes a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes this condition to develop. As a result, schizophrenia can be genetically inherited because children may inherit chemical imbalances from their parents. In fact, if a parent has schizophrenia, their child is 40 times more likely to develop this condition. 

Further research has proven that schizophrenia does not include one “schizophrenic gene”. Rather, individuals with schizophrenia have a bunch of different genetic problems causing many separate schizophrenic illnesses. Additionally, individuals with schizophrenia suffer from defective wiring and insulation of nerve fibers. This causes many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Also, these issues can be genetically inherited – proving that mental illness is genetic in some cases. 

3. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar has found to be passed down genetically in the same fashion as schizophrenia. In fact, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and OCD are all genetic illnesses due to the same reasons. To explain, children can develop bipolar disorder as a result of a shared chemical imbalance as their parent(s). In fact, having a twin with bipolar disorder increases your own risk of it to 89-93 percent. However, bipolar disorder is also caused by a variety of environmental factors. Due to this, all individuals who are concerned about bipolar disorder should contact a medical professional. Only licensed mental health clinicians can provide an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder. 


While depression is a multi-faceted disorder with a strong environmental component, your genetics may be a factor as well. However, depression is thought to manifest as a result of a few genetic risk factors plus a heap of environmental problems. After all, families typically share the same environments and stresses, causing it to be difficult to determine whether depression is a genetic condition. Many studies have shown that patients with depression have reported a family member suffering from depression as well. If you or a loved one suffer from the symptoms of depression, it is vital to receive mental health treatment. 

Mental Illness Treatment at Voices of Mental Health

While mental illness can run in families, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing a mental health condition. Individuals who have a healthy diet, exercise regularly, sleep well, and abstain from substance abuse are less likely to develop a mental illness. However, sometimes mental illness is unavoidable. If you or a loved one suffer from a mental illness medical mental health treatment is extremely important. Individuals who suffer from unmanaged mental illness may require to attend a mental health treatment program

“By enrolling in a residential environment, patients have access to mental and physical healthcare in a safe, supportive, and controlled environment. Whether you or a loved one is suffering from a dual diagnosis or solely a mental illness, our licensed mental health therapists are here to provide the guidance and support necessary to overcome your struggles.”

If the symptoms of your mental illness have become impossible to bear, contact Voices of Mental Health today. 

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