For years, people thought that diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure were hereditary. Then people began to realize that while these diseases aren’t hereditary, the habits which lead to them can be. Many people tend to eat what the rest of their family eats, because during the first part of your life, you're not the one making those sorts of decisions. In some cases, the same progression can apply to your mental health. It’s common for people struggling with depression or anxiety to want to understand where a detrimental predilection comes from. Are you born with it? Does it develop over time? Is it hereditary?
Mental Disorders, Addiction, and DNA
The short answer is that depression isn't just a genetic disease. Depression is a complex disorder that can be linked to multiple sources. It is true that if you have a family history of depression or anxiety, your chances of having the same issues are increased. Although it's yet to be proven conclusively, some research shows that certain types of anxiety disorders may be linked to specific inherited genes. Remember, though, that your environment plays the single largest factor in your mental health.
You may have your parents to thank for an addictive personality - your genetic makeup can increase your chances of turning to substance abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control, genes are units of DNA that make up the human genome. This is where our bodies' cellular activities are decided. Your genetic makeup is your starting point for how much risk you have of developing heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and addiction. However, this doesn't mean that you are destined to struggle simply because your parents did; there are a number of environmental factors at play which can greatly impact whether you develop these diseases or personality traits.
How Much of a Role Does My Environment Play?
Your overall health is informed by both your genes and your environment, and the same is true if you have an addictive personality. If you grew up around people who have diabetes or high blood pressure, then it’s in your best interests to develop good habits early. The same goes for addiction. Growing up with a parent who abused drugs or alcohol doesn’t guarantee you to follow in their footsteps. It’s unfair to assume someone is doomed to addiction just because they grew up around alcohol. There are numerous cases in which people end up despising or disagreeing with the things they grew up around. Seeing your parents struggling with addiction, for example, can make some people take their lives in the complete opposite direction.
Signs of an Addictive Personality
Whether it came from your parents or your environment, it’s important to know the signs of an addictive personality. A person with an addictive personality can be obsessive. You might notice this at a casual game night together, or during the day-to-day of a close relationship. It may seem like this person can never get enough. Their favorite phrase or attitude may be “just one more”, which can easily turn into “just one more drink.” Addiction and dishonesty often go hand in hand, and in many cases both will worsen over time. Someone with an addictive personality will first lie to themselves about the severity of their habit, then they will begin lying to their friends to cover it up.
Consequences can mean little to someone with an addictive personality. They can end up getting involved in criminal activity, toxic relationships, and infidelity. Their impulsive behavior leads them to act without considering how their choices will affect them or other people. They may refuse to take responsibility for their actions, leaving others with confusion and concern. If a harmful addiction develops, they can point the finger at everyone except themselves.
If someone in your life is always seeking a thrill, they won’t necessarily become addicted to something harmful; if you grew up around alcoholism substance abuse, you aren’t necessarily doomed to the same struggles. It’s simply something to monitor, just like someone with a parent who died of a heart attack should be monitoring their eating habits. Remember that you don’t have to face your predispositions alone. If you want to learn more about the way you work and develop a plan for keeping yourself away from destructive urges, reaching out for professional help can make a lasting impact.
Depression, anxiety, and addictive behavior can come from a number of sources, including your family, your environment, and your genetic disposition. This is why it’s so important to be able to understand and recognize the signs of addictive behavior, both in ourselves and in our loved ones. Although addiction may not be completely hereditary, your family can still be a direct influence on the decisions that you make, especially when it comes to addiction and substance abuse. If you grew up in an environment that involved any type of addiction, it’s important to monitor your habits. Addiction and addictive personalities often come with denial and a lack of accountability. If you or a loved one are showing signs of an addictive personality or substance abuse, your best choice is to seek professional help. START UP RECOVERY provides a state-of-the-art sober living space for people who want to press the reset button on their lives. We connect you with counselors and experts who work to help you understand your predilections on a personal level and rebuild your life according to your individual needs and goals. Call us at (310) 773-3809 to learn more.