Scientists Reveal The Link Between Genetics and Mental Illness

What Causes Mental Illness?  – bipolar disorder schizophrenia

The causes of mental illnesses are a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Scientists have long since eliminated character defects or personal weakness as legitimate causes of mental illness.bipolar disorder schizophrenia

Regarding the coping and recovery process, it is also not a matter of “sucking it up” or “pushing through,” despite what some uninformed individuals say; nor is coping and recovery a matter of self-discipline or willpower.

While it is believed that our biology, environment, genetics, and psychology influence – to some extent – the onset of mental illness, genetics (heredity) seems to correlate the strongest. That is, developing a mental illness from parental genes is more likely than through biological, environmental, or psychological experiences.

Scientists Explain The Link Between Genetics and Mental Illness

  1. Heritable Mental Illnesses — bipolar disorder schizophrenia

“Most psychiatric disorders are highly heritable; the estimated heritability for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism (are) 80 % or higher … much higher than that of diseases like breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease.” – Burmeister, M., McInnis, M.G. & Zöllner, S.

Prior research has shown a relatively high heritability rate for the following mental health conditions:

– Alcohol dependence

– Anxiety disorders

– Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Autism and autism spectrum disorders

– Bipolar disorder

– Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa)

– Major depressive disorder (MDD)

– Obsessive-compulsive disorder

– Schizophrenia

Per a study published in Nature Reviews, the estimated heritability for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism are between 75 to 90%, which is much higher than that of breast cancer (5-60%) and Parkinson’s disease (13-30%).

  1. Disorder Symptoms and Rates of Heritability

Alcohol dependence records a heritability rate of 50-60%, affecting around 5% of the population. The disorder is characterized by persistent problems involving tolerance, psychological cravings, and behaviors centered around alcohol use or its consequences. Alcohol dependence has an age of onset around the mid-twenties.

Anxiety disorders are quite common, with a prevalence rate of nearly 30%. Every diagnosed cased of clinical anxiety involves a “heightened sense of arousal or fear.” Physical symptoms include rapid heartbeat and sweating; with psychological symptoms centering around worry and fear.

Panic disorder, defined as “debilitating anxiety and fear that arises frequently and without reasonable cause” has a heritability rate of around 50%.


Leave a Reply

Please wait...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to be notified when our article is published? Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.