Are Depression And Alcoholism Genetic?

The risk of alcoholism, as well as the risk of depression, are more prevalent in people with a genetic predisposition. However, other factors, such as experiences and environment, also play a role in depression and alcohol dependence.

Are Depression And Alcoholism Genetic?

Major depressive disorder (depression) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are both mental health conditions.

Like other mental health conditions, their risk factors include genetics, circumstances, experiences, and environment.

Here you’ll find information on the genetic factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to depression and AUD.

Genetics Of Major Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders around the world. At least 10% of Americans will experience depression during their lifetime, according to psychiatry experts.

Symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, emotional numbness, and feelings of hopelessness.

Some twin studies have revealed that depression may be roughly 40%-50% heritable, but researchers doubt that a single gene is responsible for depression.

Rather, researchers believe that multiple genes, and the expression of those genes, contribute to a person’s risk of depression.

Genetics Of Alcoholism

AUD is characterized by excessive, debilitating alcohol consumption, even when the person experiences negative consequences due to drinking.

European and American research shows that alcohol use disorder is indeed a genetic condition.

The National Library of Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), notes that specific genes, namely ADH1B and ALDH2, have been implicated in the risk of developing this condition.

Researchers continue to study other genome variants that may contribute to substance use disorders.

Other Family History Factors

While genes do contribute to both depression and AUD, other factors can cause a higher prevalence of these disorders among family members.

Environmental factors can increase the risk of psychiatric disorders.

For example, trauma may lead people to abuse drugs and alcohol, and multiple family members may experience the same source of trauma.

Having a family member that experiences alcohol abuse can also be a source of trauma, which can perpetuate a generational cycle of drinking.

Likewise, drinking alcohol at a young age is a risk factor for AUD.

When an older family member experiences alcohol abuse, the children in that home may have easy access to alcohol, and they may begin drinking early as a result.

The Link Between Depression And Substance Abuse

Depression and drug abuse also have links to each other. They often occur together as a dual diagnosis.

Generally, people with mental health disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, experience higher rates of substance use than those without these conditions.

It is unclear whether one disorder directly causes the other, but they do frequently reinforce each other, forming a feedback loop.

Some people with depression, for example, self-medicate with alcohol or other substances. Alcohol, however, can worsen depression symptoms over time.

If I Have An Alcohol Addiction, Will My Children Also Have Alcohol Problems?

While both alcohol addiction and depression have genetic components, your children are not guaranteed to experience addiction if you have this condition yourself.

While there is linkage between genetics and alcohol use, whether or not a person does develop an AUD depends on much more than their chromosomes or phenotype.

As a matter of fact, less than half of people whose parents have an AUD develop an AUD themselves.

By seeking treatment for alcohol addiction and remaining open about your challenges with your healthcare provider, you can help break the substance abuse cycle.

Get Help For Addiction

All forms of substance abuse, including alcohol addiction, are difficult and complex. However, they are treatable conditions.

If you or a loved one need substance abuse care, contact Addiction Resource today to find treatment services.

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