Q&A #10: Is Depression Inherited?


No, that isn’t a droid in the upcoming Star Wars VII movie. TPH2 refers to a gene in human beings. This gene is a key part in the controlling of serotonin levels. And, serotonin levels are extremely important in the development of depression.

Over 54 scientific studies performed between 2001 and 2010 involving over 41,000 participants suffering from depression confirmed the gene’s association with depression. This means the gene controlling serotonin may not be working properly and can predispose a person to developing depression.

Serotonin levels determine how we respond to stress and a poorly functioning gene can be damaged resulting in lower levels of serotonin. It would seem a person’s genetic makeup can control how a person reacts to situations in life that can lead to depression.

I can personally vouch for this. My father suffered from depression and anxiety most of his life. In his later years from about 88 until he died at age 98, he required anti-depressants to function on a daily basis. It should come as no surprise that I, Dr. Bruce Hennigan, would also suffer from depression. And, I can see the tendency toward depression in one of my children.

What can you do about it? First, look carefully at your family history to see if there is a recurring presence of depression. Second, be even more vigilant about your own reaction to stress. Since you may have a faulty gene, you may require anti-depressant medication to keep the levels of serotonin normal. Don’t despair. You can get help!

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