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Can depression be inherited?

Answer by:
WebMD Expert


Depression is highly familial. When a parent has depression, a child faces three times the risk of becoming depressed compared to a child without a depressed parent. If the parent developed the mental illness before age 20, the child’s risk rises four- to fivefold.

I’m talking about risk. Not all kids who have a depressed grandparent get depression. But if you have a depressed grandparent and a depressed parent, your probability of getting depressed is extremely high.

Depression is a complex disorder in which genes and environment both probably play a role. So far, research suggests genetic vulnerability that makes some people more likely to develop depression, but scientists haven’t yet found a depression gene.