Depression runs in families. That’s a fact. And if your grandparents were bipolar, does that mean that you’re stuck? The first real question is “What does it mean to be stuck?” Depression does run in families but that just means that there is a heightened chance that someday you will exhibit some symptoms of what is currently diagnosed as “depression.”
By itself, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Depression has been routinely described as the “common cold in psychiatry.” “Runs in families” is not a race in the Olympics nor is it some of prison sentence. It means that genetics play a part in what psychiatric symptoms that we show as we go through life.
If your grandparents were diagnosed as having a Bipolar Disorder, it means that you have to consider the risk and resilience factors in your life. “Risk” factors refer to the weaknesses and “resilience” tactors refer to your strengths.
Weaknesses can refer to a wide range of attributes such as poverty, unemployment, family fights, substance abuse and so on. Strengths are just the opposite: family support, stable employment, safe housing, and so on. A family history of depression is a risk factor. It means that it’s just one factor to consider in knowing how likely you are to show depressive symptoms.
Having a lot of risk factors means that the cards are not stacked in your favor. On other hand (so to speak), it means that you have to become a good card player. Some things like self-care strategies are essential in making the most of your strengths. But age is not your friend. Start today in taking care of yourself. That means now.