Genetic Factors and Mental Health

Studies have shown that there is a close link between mental health issues and DNA transmits. The susceptibility of mental illness like panic disorder, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, and manic depressive illness could be running in your family history. Heredity controls the development of brain cells. It means that DNA could transmit psychological signals related to certain disorders. Symptoms sometimes overlap, making it challenging to treat and diagnose. Their shared signs hint at their similarities from a biological perspective.

How Genetic Roots Contribute to Psychiatric Disorders

It has been long recognized that psychiatric disorders run in certain families. Conditions like ADHD, schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar, and autism seem to appear more often in individuals with specific genetic dispositions. A study published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services revealed that genetic variations in calcium channel genes have something to do with mental illnesses.

These variations include two genes (CACNA1C and CACNB2) that are responsible for the coding of cellular machinery and regulation of the level of calcium that gets into neurons. A variation in CACNA1C is associated with major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. It controls brain circuitry for memory and attention, thinking, and emotions. These are the main functions that get disrupted by a mental health issue. On the other hand, a variation in CACNB2 is also linked to all the 5 mental disorders.

While these genetic associations are statistically significant, individually, they only contribute to infinitesimal risk for psychological problems. However, research outcomes help scientists and doctors draw closer to more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Medical practitioners are also able to get a better understanding of the causative factors of major psychiatric problems.

What is Your Risk?

A mental health condition negatively affects how you think, act, or feel. This could interfere with your job, relationships, and life events. Many families are left wondering how these illnesses come about, especially when a loved one starts to show psychotic episodes like suicidal attempts. There are a few things you can do to determine your risk of mental disorders.

  • Seek information from blood relatives: These are your parents, siblings (first degree) and uncles, cousins, half-siblings, nieces, and nephews (second degree)
  • Check family history: If there is a close relative with a mental disorder, you are at a higher risk. But it doesn’t mean you will develop the condition
  • Consult a genetic counselor: You want to learn how genes affect your bloodline. A genetic counselor collects data from family members to determine your risk. Then they can take you a thorough genetic test.