Recently, Daphne Merkin wrote an article called “Is Depression Inherited?” for the New York Times. She writes that children who are genetically prone towards depression may be able to not only stave it off, but prevent it if they are raised in a safe and nurturing environment. Merkin herself has battled chronic depression most of her life. Her daughter Zoe is a happy, well adjusted child. “Although I know that my depression is not something you can catch from another person like chickenpox, I fear that my susceptibility will somehow “rub off” on my daughter – that she might pattern her responses to life’s inevitable difficulties after my own.” Merkin believes the environment her daughter is being raised in is light years away from the her own childhood surroundings…. and that has made a huge difference. Her daughter Zoe is surrounded by warmth and love, while Merkin’s childhood was cold and harsh.
Researchers responded to Merkin’s article, agreeing that a safe, and nurturing childhood can forestall and prevent depression in children. They also believe a mother’s treatment for depression can have a positive effect on her children. Their recent studies show that a successful remission of a mother’s depression during treatment with either medication or psychotherapy can have quick and favorable effects of diminishing depressive symptoms in her child. The National Institute of Mental Health recently initiated a study of biomarkers, in an effort to predict response and remission from depression based on the individual’s characteristics. The researchers believe these new findings, as well as personalized treatment and better access to mental health care can greatly reduce depression in parents as well as their children. They point out however, that swift and targeted treatment of depression is critical….. The New York Times 8/7/12