Genes, depression and post natal depression.
I have never considered that genes played a big part in depression. It never came up in my training and in my own thinking that I sucked out of my thumb, I figured that maybe it was about 1% of those people who were suffering from depression may have been caused by genes. It wasn’t until I met a psychologist who expounded the ‘gene fad’, that I needed to think about genes and their supposed role in depression more deeply. I had been unaware of this research which according to him, explained depression and had swept the world. I remember thinking; ‘no wonder it’s popular – it’s alleviated millions of parents guilt about the way they’ve brought up their children’. Not good enough parenting could now be blamed on genes.
I didn’t buy it – it didn’t fit with my experience I had gained in counselling prior to that – people with depression had been helped considerably after therapy – so something was wrong. Fortunately, following on from that period of gene belief there was an awful lot of research going on that was tying in psychotherapy with neuroscience and now in 2014 I believe we have a correct answer to the cause of depression.
Un-empathic nurturing of an infant or child is likely to play a major role in determining whether a ‘depression gene’ will be activated. To say this another way is that we might have genes that are ‘depression genes’ but they have be activated through not good enough parenting.
What does ‘not good enough’ parenting look like? That’s a big study – if you want to read about it it’s in my book ‘Happiness – who wants it.’ The sad news is that many, many psychotherapists aren’t trained in this area so the understanding of the source of depression is missed. If you are suffering from depression and haven’t made a decision yet about choosing a therapist it might be good to ask him or her the following questions before you commit:
What is your approach to depression? Do you believe that it is caused by genes and that the poor or un-empathic parenting one receives in infanthood and childhood has nothing to do with this?
Will you focus primarily on the way my childhood is causing my depression?
How familiar are you with attachment theory and will you focus on my attachment with others?
Any waffling answer and I suggest you keep looking!