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Is Depression Inherited?

There’s no argument that humans are born with genetic tendencies or predispositions toward certain physical or psychological traits. You can have a predisposition toward alcohol, obesity, music, art, mathematics, athletics, introversion, or extroversion, but unless a tendency is embraced and reinforced, it won’t necessarily manifest itself. A predisposition toward depression is no different. If you’re depressed, it’s important to realize that depression isn’t a life sentence–it’s just a tendency. Or, as Self-Coaching teaches, depression isn’t an “it” or an illness–it’s a habit of thinking. Just a habit!

Another way of viewing a predisposition is to see it lowering the threshold toward certain conditions. Stressful life circumstances may evoke a depressive reaction in one person, while someone with a higher threshold may be unaffected by the same stressor. If you happen to have a lower threshold for depression (i.e., if you are predisposed) then you may, in fact, be more susceptible to an array of mood disturbances. The key is understanding that susceptibility to depression isn’t a guarantee that you will become depressed. For this to happen, as I’ve mentioned, you have to reinforce it. How is a disposition toward depression reinforced? By allowing insecurity to feed it. And when it comes to feeding a depression, insecurity has three typical expressions: doubts, fears, and negatives.

Consciously or unconsciously, when we allow this feeding to persist, we begin a process of depletion. This erosion over time creates imbalances, affecting both our psychology and our body chemistry. (This is why medication works. It reverses the depleted condition created by reflexive, insecurity-driven thinking.) To topple any depression you must learn to break this vicious cycle by learning to starve the thoughts that feed it.

In order to be convinced that you can take the necessary leap of faith and confront your irrational habits (habits that are ruling and ruining your life), you’re going to need a strong foundation of understanding and awareness. In my books, I offer a Self-Talk program which 1.) can teach you to separate fact from fiction (insecurity creates fictions; for example, “I know I’m going to get sick” or “I know I’ll never be a success.” The problem begins when we treat these fictions as if they are facts; 2.) put a stop to the thoughts that feed your habit (i.e., doubts, fears, and negatives); and then 3.) turn away from your destructive cycle by learning to let go of congested, insecurity-driven Reflexive Thinking. As I see it, habits–even a destructive habit such as depression–prefer the dark; once exposed, they quickly begin to with.

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