Is Mental health hereditary?

Are our mental states dictated by nature or nurture?

Let’s take a girl who is born to a mother with various mental health struggles and an alcoholic father. Both use drugs and the mother spends stints in mental health acute wards. However this girl is adopted at 6 months old. She moves to a beautiful village by the sea to very grounded parents. Will she inherit her parents problems or be shaped by her adoptive family?

Well, as that girl, I can tell you I have been hyper observant of this topic. In short, I am aware of my ‘tendencies’ and have managed to avoid any major mental health problems. My birth mother had an extremely difficult time growing up and the challenges continued well into adulthood, eventually killing her. So it was in fact her nurture that ultimately caused her demise.

There is so much science out there when it comes to nature vs nature but for me, my own experience is my true evidence. I know I have genetic tendencies for sure but its my environment, my ‘nurture’, that has given me the strength and environment to manage them.

We are undoubtedly genetically influenced and we have no choice in that. But our ability to control what we have been given lies in our environment. In our choices. You can’t chose the cards you are dealt but you can chose how to play them.

We are a result of both our DNA and our environment. Our DNA expression changes constantly as a result of your environment and your nutrition. Your state of health is a result of the interaction between your inherited adaptive capacity (your genes) and your environment.

Health = genes balanced with your environment.

It is actually the epigenome that decides how genes will be expressed. The epigenome determines your well-being from vibrant health to disease and cancer. Your gene activity is changed by

  • what you eat, drink, breathe & touch
  • how you FEEL!
  • what you DO
  • what you think and believe!
  • even what you perceive (whether real or imagined!)

So with every decision and thought we are determining our health both mentally and physically.

So is mental, or physical health for that matter, nature or nurture? The answer? There is no nature vs nurture. Only nature AND nurture. Lots of nurture. We actually have a highly influential amount of power over our overall health and with that comes accountability, whether we like it or not.

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