Depression is a gene that can be passed on depending on your family history. You will not know whether or not the depressive symptom has been passed to you until you start to show symptoms. An interactive website launched by The University of New South Wales allows those with a family history of depression or bipolar disorder to see whether or not they will end up with depression as well.

What Does UNSW’s Website Consist Of?

First, you set up a free account on the links.neura.edu. You then begin a short anonymous questionnaire about your family’s history or immediate family relatives’ history in having depression or bipolar disorder. Then, you learn about types of depression, how much genetics and environmental factors play a part, the likelihood of having depression or being bipolar if you have a family history, and prevention and coping techniques if you have any of those mental illnesses. It was important for UNSW to develop this website as there is normally just genetic testing for cancer or prenatal genetic counseling. 

How Does This Evaluation Tool Help Evaluate the Depressive Gene?

The website’s evaluation tool shows how likely that person is to have depression or bipolar disorder based on their close relatives’ experiences. The head of the researching team, Professor Meiser, says that people should be relieved that the chances of developing depression or bipolar disorder are not as high as people think when you have a family history. That the chances of developing the same mental illness as their parents are lower than 50/50. This study proved that people with a family history of depression or bipolar overestimate the risk of passing on this condition.

How Does the Website Show That Environmental Factors Play a Role?

This website uses the “mental illness jar model” that says that everyone is born with a certain number of genes in their jar that will not change over their lifetime. The space left in the jar represents a person’s vulnerability to depression or bipolar disorder. When the jar is filled up over time by environmental factors, a period of depression can come. This shows it is possible to have all of the genetic factors and still not have depression or bipolar because of resilience and prevention techniques. Websites like these can ease the worries of those believing a mental illness they see relatives struggle with will not be passed onto them. 

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