Genetics, Environment and Epigenetics in Depression

I agree, mental health issues need to be addressed as health issues, but I would argue they are public health issues with societal triggers and those societal triggers are what need to be addressed. It has been widely established that genetics alone do not cause depression. Environmental triggers, stressful and traumatic events (i.e. societal causes – poverty, abuse, rape, bullying, social ostracism, etc.) interact with the individual’s genetic make-up and cause epigenetic changes that are linked with depression. The U.S. extremist ideology of individuality has become naturalized into our worldviews and has shaped our social systems, including our education, economic and mental health systems. These systems are designed on the assumption that individuals are atomized from social constructs, that we are all individually “free” to create ourselves based on our “God-given” natural abilities. Under such an ideology, blame is easily assigned to the individual’s lack of ability, either due to their own character flaws or due to their own bad luck at being born genetically inferior. I would argue both the character flaws and the genetic inferiority premises are wrong. Many people have been born with genetic markers for depression, yet they never develop depression because the environmental triggers weren’t there to flip on their genes or if they were exposed to environmental triggers they had the resources (social and economic – friends, family, money) to deal with the stressors. I would very much like to believe that we can create ourselves, but the only way we can is if we understand how society affects us and then we go back and try to undo how society has shaped us so that we can re-shape ourselves. But, we cannot do this creative process if we are stuck in an atomizing ideology that refuses to acknowledge how each and every one of us is a product of the psycho-social feedback loop – how our own psychologies are feeding into society while society is feeding into our psychologies. Here are some studies I have found if you are interested in the links between genetics, environmental triggers, epigenetics and depression.

https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/social-and-relational-factors-in-major-depression/

http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n10/full/4001546a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22687339

http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v38/n1/full/npp201273a.html

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