Depression and the brain – time is the state of my genes.


Genes control your whole body, this includes your brain. Genes produce protein and turn on and off during your life. The best outcome you could have is that your genes produce the right protein at the right time. When the genes got it wrong sometime in your life, it can affect your mood and that can become unstable.


When you have a vulnarability to lets say depression a certain stressor like an illness or a missed deadline at work, having a baby, finding a romantic partner, a loss can throw you off balance.


Mood is affected by dozens of genes and as our combination of genes differ, so do our depressions differ. One goal of research that focusses on the genes is to know which genes specifically are involved. With that knowledge treatment for depression could get more individualized and therefore more succesful.



How can the biology of a person make him or her more vulnerable to depression?


Several genes influence the stress response. What my doctor said so nicely to me: ‘Listen, life happens, when you’re going to respond in that way something comes up…’. Well, I apparently do that. Depression can be a reaction to certain troubles.


To understand more about mental illness in correlation to our genetical make up we need to look at research that focusses on studies done on identical twins. A lot of studies looked into bipolar disorder. Half of people with bipolar disorder have a relative that have a similar pattern of mood fluctuations. Studies involving identical twins show that if one twin has bipolar disorder, the other twin have a 60 to 80% chance of developing it too. Fraternal twins, who share 50% of their dna like a brother and a sister do, show a lower percentage. If your sibling has bipolar disorder, you have a 20% chance of developping it too.


When a first-degree relative has major depression disorder, you have 1.5 to 3% more chance to develop depression than the norm.


These numbers are based on many studies with identical twins. You could argue that maybe one twin was approached differently than the other, maybe one was a boy, the other a girl and so on. They did studies on identical twins who didn’t grew up together. I don’t know how they were found but I remember very clearly that studies tried to control as many other variables as possible and to focus solely on the genetic composition and how that shows in mental illness in this case.


Genetics research is developping and the goal is to learn the specific function of each gene. Then we would be able to understand how the interaction between biology and environment leads to depression in some people but not in others.


Genes and depression

When we are born with a certain predisposition to depression, it is maybe in our genes. Is there something we can do?


Looking at genes provides one persperctive on how you cope with life difficulties. A more intuitive way is also possible, you know yourself very well. Your temperament is a combination of your genes –  to maybe withdrawn when faced with difficulties or maybe you react in another way, you reach out to people to talk and open up about your struggles –  and the experiences you had during your lifetime.


When you have an idea how your habitually react to life stressors or to people, you can alter that. We all have a view of the world, how it is and in my case how it should be. Some assumptions go unacknowledged, it is how you see it. When you look out of your window every day, it is weird that you see the same wall or tree (when you’re lucky)?


Cognitive psychologists assume that we chose our window very early on and shape our reactions and behaviors based on what we expect to see. When you look through the window of ‘not worthy of love or not likeble’ you won’t see people who love you. You won’t believe that they can pass by and like what they see. You can look through the window of self critism and you can’t stand someone giving to maybe even positive critique. You have enough with what you see every day already!


Your view of the world or the way how you respond to it and to your life can be altered by depression. They can influence your depression but it is possible to shift your gaze to another window with maybe a more accurate or even pleasant view. It can feel like taking a glimpse into another world. It is here that therapy and medication can help you to shift your views, thoughts and patterns to see another world.




Full article click here.

Picture credits: Background vector created by freepik –


Other interesting posts on the matter of genes.

Drjurisharma from ‘TheH3: health, happiness, healing’ wrote a very detailed post on genes in general. If you are interested, you can click here.



16 thoughts on “Depression and the brain – time is the state of my genes.

  1. This is such a fascinating topic. And then throw in epigenetics and how situations one is exposed to affect gene expression, and it’s so complex. I wonder if it will end up getting truly figured out in our lifetime. I doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It all ties together and I’m not smart enough to get the full picture (or I would win the Nobel Prize) but the small parts I do understand are so fascinating like you said. It really encourages me to read more about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. With the study of bipolar disorder in twins, I find it almost as fascinating that the statistic suggests not all identical twins get the disorder together. With those who grew up separately, that’s more understandable. Genes obviously play a role, but I’m sure environmental factors also apply. But with twins who are raised together, experiencing most of the same challenges, I wonder what causes that difference. Though that must be very hard, to be the twin with the disorder when your twin does not have it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so fascinating and the big question of course. What portion of a vulnerability to something is in our genes and we have that at birth and what portion is due to environmental factors like character, life experiences, chemicals maybe. It is an ongoing debate. Mental disorders are very tough on families and on siblings I think. It influences the whole system. Of course other diseases like cancer follow a similar course. You get to know more of your vulnerabilities and you can take some precautions but life takes it course. Thank you for commenting! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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