Mood disorders? They may have inherited it from mum!

For many years, it assumed that mood disorders such as depression are developed as a child grows up. What if this is found to be not entirely true?

A woman who has been diagnosed with depression may have had her mother’s brain circuitry at least partly to blame, as a new study done by the University of California San Francisco shows.

The study, led by psychiatry professor Fumiko Hoeft, led researchers to discover that part of the brain with a hand in mood disorders is more likely to be passed down from mother to daughter, than from mother to son or from father to either sex.

The study, involving 35 healthy families, focused on the corticolimbic system, which encompasses key parts of the brain that help regulate mood: the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, and vertromedical prefrontal cortex. Using MRI scans, researchers discovered that there are “positive associations of regional gray matter volume in the corticolimbic circuit … between biological mothers and daughters”.

“We’re the first one to get the whole family and scan both parents and offspring to look at how similar their brain networks are,” Hoeft tells Scientific American. She warns that the study doesn't necessarily mean that mothers are to blame if their daughters suffer from depression, as various factors are involved - such as their social environment.

However, the study is the first of its kind to show a connection and opens the door to further research about its role in not only depression, but in other disorders as well such as anxiety to dyslexia. 

A psychologist who wasn’t part of the study tells Scientific American that she’d like to see whether the results are replicated when “depressed mothers,” rather than “healthy families,” are studied.

How can you help your child to cope with depression?

Talk and listen without judgement. Set aside time to talk to your child about how he is feeling and especially what he is thinking.

Help if you can. If your child does share thoughts of hopelessness and self-blame, do express your concern and support.

Talk to teachers and friends. Try and speak to teachers and friends of your child. They can be a good source of information that you may not have access to.

Self-care. If you become stressed and feel depressed because of what is happening to your child, you may not be able to give the support that is needed. You should also talk to others and not keep things to yourself.

News Source: Yahoo! Parenting