Can Depression be Passed to Children?

Inherited Depression: Is There Such a Thing?

Depression has many factors. Like one’s intelligence or disposition, mental health disorders are both influenced by both the nature and the nurture aspect of each individual. These two cannot be isolated from one another–we are products of our genetic makeup as well as our environment.

However, another question that begs to be answered is within the realm of childhood depression. Experts are trying to understand: “Can depression be passed to children?” If one’s parents have suffered from long bouts of severe depression, will their children experience the same?

Depression has a Strong Genetic Factor

To further understand the present research about depression, an article in Healthline explains that there is, indeed, a chromosome responsible for some depression symptoms. Here are some facts about the present evidence on inherited depression:

  • Chromosome 3p25-26 is present in families who have recurring depression.
  • Hormone imbalances such as low serotonin levels can also be inherited.
  • Women are more likely to inherit depression than men.

What does this imply? There is a possibility that a genetic type of depression can be inherited, but it does not guarantee that a child will have it 100% of the time.

Some forms of depression in parents could be genetic, and this is the type commonly passed to children. However, the chances of this happening are less likely to happen as there are also many factors linked to childhood depression.

Responses to Life Situations can be Mimicked

A depressed parent is also likely to show behaviors, words, and mindsets which can be imitated by children as they grow up. For example, if a parent often shows a negative outlook in stressful situations, a child may learn this over time as well.

Some symptoms of depression can be passed to children in this way, but this does not mean that they will inherit a genetic recurring or clinical depression of some sort. In this scenario, it all depends on the children’s’ upbringing, and how parents are able to find management options to avoid influencing the thought patterns of their little ones.

Children May Grow Out of Their Depression

There are some conditions that children outgrow, such as bedwetting or temper tantrums. However, if you notice some signs of depression in your child, delaying professional help may cause the condition to get worse. Simply ignoring the mental health problem or believing in depression myths may also lead you to misinformed choices. What are the complications of an undiagnosed depression?

  • Increasing or worsening symptoms: A child may display more isolation, drastic weight changes, problems in school, or feeling of sadness
  • Substance abuse: Some children, especially during their pre-teen or teenage years may experiment with drugs or alcohol as a means to self-cope with depression
  • Relationship problems: Undiagnosed depression can also cause a strain in your parent-child relationship
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harm: Depression left untreated may cause suicidal ideation as well as self-harm or harming others

Thinking that depression is just a season of a child’s ‘growing-up’ years and they will eventually get over it is a risky choice. Thus, it is best to find expert help as soon as possible, as to prevent depression symptoms from recurring or worsening.

Depression in Children is Not Worse than in Adults

Many are led to believe that depression in children isn’t as “serious” compared to the mental health problems seen in adults. Others may also assume that children are less likely to act out on their mental illness in comparison to adults.

An article in Psychology Today revealed that there is a decline in children’s play activities and increasing instances of mental health problems. More parents have now shifted their attention to technological devices, or worse, even use these devices as full-time babysitters for their children.

Although we have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to technology, symptoms of depression seen in children should be taken seriously to avoid complications and allowing the mental health problem to persist through adulthood.

Various Treatment Options for Depression In Children

These are some of the popular treatment options recommended by physicians and healthcare experts in reducing the symptoms of depression in children:


Medications aren’t necessarily the first line of treatment in depression especially in milder cases, but they can help drastically reduce the symptoms for some patients. Children with severe depression or those who have difficulties functioning in daily life are given medication to boost their mood and energy levels. Those with recurring depression may also benefit greatly from antidepressants.


Psychotherapies for children may also be provided such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or even Play Therapy for younger age groups. Since children still have more malleable brains, psychotherapies can help as a long-term form of treatment to recover from depression.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is the process of stimulating the brain’s left dorsal prefrontal cortex which commonly has low activity when someone is experiencing depression. TMS is a great procedure for children who have undergone medications and psychotherapies but need more supplemental treatments to alleviate depression symptoms. TMS is also non-invasive, which means doing this form of therapy will not require surgery as well.

These management options, when used in conjunction with each other as per the advice of experts can be extremely helpful in battling depression in children.

Depression in Children? Help is Available

We hope that this segment answers the question: “Can depression be passed to children?” More importantly, if you notice signs of depression in yourself or your child, we encourage you to consider Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as a form of treatment. When used alongside recommended medications and other therapies, it can work greatly to decrease depressive symptoms even in children. Learn more.