Importance of Family History

Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Importance of Family History
Fri, 02-17-2012 - 4:41pm

I just came across this article from the Huffington Post about how important knowing your family history, especially when it comes to mental disorders:

Early intervention and treatment such as Alex's often depends on practitioners having a full knowledge of the affected person's family mental health history. Without it they are at an enormous disadvantage when they attempt to interpret symptoms and make a diagnosis or a recommendation about treatment. As internationally recognized psychologist and pioneer in family studies Dr. Terrie Moffitt writes in the forward to my memoir A Lethal Inheritance, "Family history can make the difference between 'treat now' or 'wait and see.' "

Learning about my family history and watching Alex get better also finally persuaded me to take antidepressants for my own lifelong untreated major depression. It then helped me to recognize and treat my younger son's depression and anxiety disorder -- without making him wait the three decades that I had taken to finally act on what was ailing me. I'm happy to say both my sons are thriving today, as is their mother.

Put simply, knowing the size and type of genetic load you carry, including any mental disorders and addictions in your family's past can be life-saving for your children and grandchildren. Given the fragmented state of today's mental health care system, with so many people lacking adequate insurance coverage for basic let alone quality mental health services, we need to become more informed about our own risks and use this knowledge to advocate for our own mental health needs as well as the needs of those we love.

Have you looked over your own family's history to see if you see any indications that previous family members have struggled with it?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2001
Thu, 03-01-2012 - 12:35pm

It is funny how something so old-fashioned and simple - just asking the person about family history, can be so revealing... more so than many genetic tests!

www. It's Not Mental .com