Does mental illness run in families?
We still do not know exactly how mental illness is caused, although it does seem to run in families. Both genetic and environmental factors are likely to be involved in causing or triggering mental illness. This section may be useful if you have a relative affected by mental illness and are concerned about the genetic risk that you may be also be affected. It may also be useful if you have a mental illness yourself and are concerned about the genetic risk that your relatives may have.
- Mental illness does appear to cluster in some families.
- No specific genes have been identified as involved in mental illness.
- Having a relative with mental illness may increase your risk of being diagnosed with a mental illness compared to the general population.
- Environmental factors also appear to play a role in mental illness.
- It may be that someone is vulnerable to mental illness due to their genes. This vulnerability may be triggered by environmental factors such as stress.
- There are lifestyle choices that we can all make to protect our mental health.
- These include a healthy diet, taking exercise, getting enough sleep and considering how we use drugs (prescribed and illegal) and alcohol. Please see our section on wellbeing & physical health for more information on how these lifestyle choices can make a positive impact on individual wellbeing.
These pages are created by Rethink Mental Illness' Advice and Information Service in accordance with the Information Standard. Last reviewed in August 2011. Next review August 2013.
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