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Genetic disposition - or just co-incidence?

(13 Posts)
RegTheMonkey1 Tue 05-Aug-14 12:26:15

I wonder if anyone can offer any suggestions for this. I'll be as brief as possible.
My mother's sister - my Aunt A, suffered various vague mental health problems and then had a severe nervous breakdown. (I apologise in advance if I use outdated terminology, I'm not sure what various conditions are called nowadays. Aunt A's son - my cousin B, is a paranoid schitzophrenic, who lives in a room in his brother's house, but is unable to go out into the world.

My mother's brother - my Uncle C, suffered crippling social anxiety, which the family called his 'shyness'. Uncle C's son - my cousin D, was sectioned several times, also with paranoid schitzophrenia, and eventually killed himself in a secure mental institution.

I've been battling terrible anxiety around leaving the house for around 10 years now, and it's nearly cost me my marriage - cancelling events at the last minute, getting to the front door and having to come back, only being able to sit in aisle seats in cinemas and theatres (and that's me now at a much better state, at one time I wouldn't even have been able to go to the cinema or theatre).

My question is this - all these close family members suffering these conditions - can it really "run in the family" or is it just a big unfortunate co-incidence?

Beemer30 Tue 05-Aug-14 23:07:44

I have been thinking about this myself only today. Mental health problems run in my family. Two of my grandfathers siblings committed suicide when they were relatively young back in the 60's. I think my grandfather had issues certainly with food. I have issues with food and depression as does my auntie and my cousin. I think there is definitely a link. I've been googling it and have found some interesting stuff.

Cailleach Wed 06-Aug-14 01:43:21

It definitely runs in the family with us: by "it" I mean autism and the subsequent depression / anxiety / insomnia it causes...this comes from my mother's side. On my father's side there is epilepsy which my sister also has (and possibly I have as well... I certainly have myoclonic jerks for a start and suspect I am having nocturnal fits too.)

My sister has narcolepsy and synesthesia to boot. Dodgy neural wiring abounds in our family, in other words.

I would say that if there are any developmental disorders in a family - and schizophrenia is one of them - then it would be more likely for other relatives to have similar issues. There are known genetic connections with things like this; if you share genes, you are more likely to share any genetic defects as well.

Sorry you are struggling OP, I can sympathise.

MorphineDreams Wed 06-Aug-14 01:56:21

I think it runs in families, but then people argue if you've been brought up around mental health conditions this can affect you and lead you to having them in later life.

My grandma, my grandad, my mum, my dad, my aunt, me and my brother have all had severe depression.

RegTheMonkey1 Wed 06-Aug-14 10:42:16

Interesting. Thank you all for your input.

Imsuchamess Wed 06-Aug-14 12:19:16

I have a scizophrenic uncle on my mams side and a bipolar uncle on my dad's side. My mother suffers anxiety and my nan does. I have a nice mix of scizoaffective disorder.

So for me yes it run in the family.

BastardDog Wed 06-Aug-14 14:20:54

Based on my own experience I'd also say it runs in families, or certainly it leaves you more predisposed to mental health conditions.

Pandora37 Wed 06-Aug-14 20:12:56

It is interesting and I definitely think there is a genetic predisposition. I know someone whose mother, grandmother and I believe her aunt were all alcoholics. You could argue a lot of that is nurture but I think there is some evidence out there that suggests that some people are more vulnerable to addiction because of their genes/biology.

I do wonder how much is nurture in my case. My mum had a lot of anxiety and some agoraphobia when I was growing up and I now have the same issues, although mine started as young as 7. Maybe I was destined to be an anxious person anyway but I do wonder if my mum's issues had an influence.

I think some of us are born much more susceptible to developing certain mental health problems. My dad's mum was your typical neurotic woman always worrying about things. My brother is a paranoid schizophrenic & I'm pretty certain my mother is narcissistic (she sure as hell can't feel any empathy). Rather unsurprisingly, I have anxiety problems, agoraphobia and chronic depression. My eldest 2 daughters have both had anxiety problems too, whilst my son has autism.

Of course, it could equally be argued that having a family member with mental health problems puts more pressure on to a family, which in turn causes additional problems.

bishboschone Thu 07-Aug-14 04:21:07

My grandad , my mum , dad and sister have all had depression in various forms.. Interestingly I haven't and I have had some shit thrown at me including a poorly child.. I do think that I got lucky with the genes to be honest.my dd is very timid like my sister and I do worry about her having the same brain as her :-(

Iwasinamandbunit Tue 12-Aug-14 16:07:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RegTheMonkey1 Wed 13-Aug-14 15:59:28

It does seem that some families are certainly afflicted in this area. I too feel I've been let off lightly.

jamsconeandtea Sat 16-Aug-14 18:23:25

Interesting question. My dad committed suicide, my mum and brother are schizophrenic. I have thought about this issue a lot. Episodes of anxiety on my part but not sure how much to do with my upbringing. I worry and look for signs of predisposition in my children but both very confident and out going so far.

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