Can You Inherit Depression, Alcoholism? 

When I was a teenager from about the age of 15 most likely into my late twenties I was angry. I didn’t like my life. I didn’t like the cards that life had dealt me. I had the biggest chip you could imagine on not one shoulder, but both of them. Looking back, it’s rather sad that I wasted all that energy being upset with everything and everybody in my life.


It would be a normal occurrence for me to be in another fight or altercation. Looking back it was madness. I wouldn’t even contemplate such actions today. Does that mean I have finally grown up, that I’ve found happiness and contentment? Well I think that definitely has a bearing on it.

I have often wondered if the reason I was this way was because I didn’t have a father in my life, a guiding role, a male figure to guide me down the right path of life. Of course I will never know if that would have made a difference, because was it simply in my DNA to be someone that had an incredible dissatisfaction of my life.

Growing up my father was a raging alcoholic. At least until I was eight years old when he left. My mother was a manic depressive. What a formula that is to have as parents. My question to myself is, did I inherit these conditions or did I learn by watching? I’m guessing I inherited both because through my life I’ve suffered from both.

When I had problems with my first marriage, and an element of financial issues, I suffered from both of these. I remember quite clearly getting very depressed about my current situation which was about 15 years ago.

I visited my doctor and I was put on anti-depressants. Yes, they helped to a certain extent, but they don’t solve the issues in your life which in my case was my first marriage going bad and the stress of money problems.

So I decided without actually realising that alcohol could take away the problem, which of course it does, but to my surprise, yes surprise, it’s very temporary, but I thought it would be a good idea to stay permanently drunk which I did for quite some time. What I didn’t see coming was how alcohol can begin to control your life.

Was I turning into my father?

I did eventully realise that I needed to stop and I also needed to stop the anti-depressants. Easier said than done.

What you need is motivation and I had at the time three children, and they were my motivation. I stopped drinking and have never drunk alcohol since. That’s about 14 years ago. I can honestly say I don’t miss it one bit.

I also gradually weaned myself off anti-depressants. It took some months, but I stopped and have never used them since. The reasons this all worked was because I met the love of my life, my wife now. I was in a happy place and still am.

Depression is a very strange condition and if I inherited it from my mother that surely means it’s part of my DNA. There are times even today that I feel that depression, and if you’re not careful it can take over. On occasions, although I admit rare occasions, a dark cloud appears above for no rhyme or reason and my mood changes. It might only last a few minutes or possibly hours.

In fact just a couple of days ago I woke up in a mood that I couldn’t explain. The dark cloud was hovering above and it left me in a strange and down mood all day and there was simply no explanation to it.

Unfortunately it took all day and longer to go, and those closest to me suffered because of it, and that is in truth unforgivable.

Even though that I am in the happiest place that I have ever been in my life. My question to myself is, have I inherited depression and if I’m not fully aware can it creep up on me without warning, which ultimately worries me.

Have you suffered from depression? Do you feel it ever goes away? Or is it waiting in the shadows to rear its head?

5 thoughts on “Can You Inherit Depression, Alcoholism? 

  1. I suffer with bad anxiety. Depression started in university, it came and went, but my anxiety started on the hospital ward after giving birth to my son. Lack of sleep even caused some pyscosis. My mother, like yours is also a manic depressive, and they do say mental illness can run in families. I do think past experiences can cause mental illness. My anxiety is about people taking my son away to be adopted 🙁 it started after the birth when I was hallucinating and thought I could hear the midwives conspiring. It went, then came back after an a&e visit where the health visitor rang and said if we took him again she would have to have a chat with both my husband and I. Then it’s never really gone away. We had nosy neighbours in our last house, who would always be in the window staring when our son was in the garden having a tantrum, which of course, made me feel like a terrible mum and made the anxiety worsen. We have never been involved with social services at all, but the anxiety has made it a big fear. When my mother was ill she had to be taken into hospital, we had to go and live with my aunt, and I know now that social services said that they were going to take my sister and I into care. (Luckily that never happened)) I do wonder if this has had an affect on me somehow and the anxiety has clung into that. Also, my sister in law was going through the adoption process at the time of me giving birth, there was a lot of talk of adoption, so maybe somewhere in my confused post birth mind it decided to pick out these 2 things and make my mind worry and fret about them. The mind is such a powerful thing! Thank you for being brave and having the courage about talking about your previous situation. It was a very interesting read 🙂 I’m glad you’re very happy now with your new wife. Depression can creep back in, but there is lots of help on hand these days too.

  2. First off…thank you for such an open and honest post Nige! It’s always very brave to open yourself up to Joe Public, but it’s also very important, because your post could help another dad in the same situation and you men are notorious for not discussing things like this.
    Anyway, I was diagnosed with depression around 7 years ago and like you had medication, but also CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) which is absolutely fabulous and has made such a difference to my outlook and approach to life. Both my parents suffer from depression. My mum won’t admit it, but I can see it and everyone else can see it, so yes I do believe it can be an inherent thing.
    I don’t have any direct experience of alcoholism, but I imagine that could be inherent too as it’s a personality trait, so perhaps if you have a parent with an addictive personality I guess you could too #TriumphantTales

  3. I think a tendancy towards depression can definitely be inherited. I never lived with my natural mother and neither did any of my brothers, and yet all four of us suffer from depression. It is true that the circumstances of our individual early upbringings could have also triggered depression (we all grew up seperately) but that worked together with the genetic component I think.

  4. I studied this question in A-Level Psychology years ago. They said that people inherit a tendency to have depression or alcoholism, but that there needs to be a trigger to start it – so it’s a compbination of nature and nurture.

    I have suffered with debilitation depression in the past, but when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I went cold turkey as they may have had a detrimental effect on my baby. I have been off anti-depressants for almost 7 years and I have never looked back. There are still random days when, like you, the cloud just hangs over me and I can’t explain why. But I now know ways to deal with it and pull myself out of it.

    Well done on turning your life around. It is NOT an easy thing to do. But it’s lovely to hear how your family have inspired you to do that #triumphanttales

  5. I think Mental Health issues are always going to be there for someone who suffers from them. Whether its at the forefront or deep down, it is always there unfortunately. Ive suffered with Depression and anxiety for over 17 years and when I think I’ve finally beaten it, it rears it head unfortunately.
    I do think it is genetic, or if it isn’t; nature and nurture plays a big role in the way people handle situations and therefore it could be seen as genetic as generations could suffer the same issues if that makes sense?
    Thank you for sharing such a personal and thought provoking post with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week.

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