Mental Illness

Genetics and Mental Illnesses

December 20, 2021

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions (also called mental health disorders). Such disorders include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, addictive behaviors, and more.

Many people believe they have mental illnesses and health concerns from time to time, but when it impacts your daily life, including work, school, and relationships is when one should seek professional help. Most mental illnesses and issues can be resolved with a combination of therapy and, at times, medication.

The age-old question commonly comes up, “are mental illnesses inherited?” The easy answer is yes and no. This article will further divulge the truth behind it.


The signs and symptoms of mental illnesses can vary fromperson to person, depending on the disorder and other outside factors. Manysymptoms can affect one’s thoughts, moods, and everyday behaviors. Commonsymptoms include the following:

  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Low energy
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Drug/ alcohol use
  • Exhibiting anger or hostility
  • Violence
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Excessive fear or worry
  • Suicidal ideations

When to seek help from a Professional

 If you have any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms, it’s highly recommended to visit your primary care physician or mental health professional. Most mental illnesses just simply won’t go away if left untreated. Sometimes, that can even make them worse.


Mental illnesses, as many of us know, can be caused by a variety of factors, both inherited and external. For example, as they are notcausal, they are correlated. Mental illness is much more common in people whoseblood relatives also have a mental illness. Genes may or may not increase one’srisk of developing a mental illness, but it’s not guaranteed. Additionally,environmental factors including stressors, toxins, or exposure to certainsituations while inside the womb also can be linked to mental illnesses. Also,studies conducted on identical and fraternal twins have found that severalpsychiatric illnesses can manifest an inherited risk. If one twin has a mentalillness, there is an increased likelihood of the other developing the disorder.

Risk Factors

Certain factors pose more of a risk than others in developing a mental illness, including stressful situations, financialproblems, death, or divorce. Additionally, those who deal with ongoing medicalconditions or traumatic experiences are also more likely to develop mentalillnesses. Therefore it’s so important to have a strong support system that canassist you if you need help, even if you may not know you need it.

by Kinza Khan
by Kinza Khan

December 20, 2021