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Did I Cause My Daughter's Depression?

Question:

My daughter has been diagnosed as bi-polar. At least two of her children are ADHD and possibly bi-polar. I have recently been told that I have several relatives with mental illness-two are bi-polar. Did she get this illness from me and does this mean that I also have bi-polar? Could this explain my depressed moods?

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Answer:

Bipolar disorder is not a communicable disease. This is to say, you can’t ‘catch’ it from someone as you might the common cold. In this sense there is no way you could have ‘given’ your daughter depression.

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p>However, there is good evidence that vulnerability to depression (of which bipolar illness is a type) is, in part, genetically inherited. Some forms of depression (not bipolar disorder, but regular ‘unipolar’ depression) can also, in part, be influenced by particular styles of thinking and coping with problems that can be unconsciously and unintentionally taught by parents to children during the normal process of child-rearing. It is certainly possible that you may have passed on to your daughter some family vulnerability to depression or bipolar illness at the time of her conception. However, there are many other things (completely unrelated to you) that can trigger bipolar disorder. There is no real way to know what caused your daughter’s case. Regarding your question of whether your depressive feelings mean you have bipolar disorder, there is not enough information here to begin to answer this question. I can only say that you or people around you would probably know by now if you had a true full-on bipolar disorder condition (which is associated with mood cycling between very energized and very depressed states). Seek an appointment with a psychiatrist if you are wanting a definitive diagnosis.

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