Happiness Is Knowing Your Mental Health History

mental health history

Your Mental Health History Can Give You Clarity And Hope

What do you know about your mental health history? Why does your family mental health picture have an impact on your life today? For one thing, families keep secrets, and you may not know what traumas are lurking in your family tree. Trauma can be the hurts and injustices that no one talks about. Mental illness also is also a taboo subject in many families. One of the issues we talk about in our new book, The Mother-Daughter Relationship Makeover, is the importance of knowing your family’s mental health history.

Family Mental Health Is Like Family Physical Health

So many of us grow up confused as to why we feel the things we do, or why we struggle with one thing or another. We’re forced to figure out what our mental health issues are as they arise, or become troubling, as opposed to being prepared for them and armed with solutions to prevent and manage them. Even in our family, as we began to unravel the mental health history, there’s still a lot we just don’t know. We know some family members from the past were unhappy or struggled, but we don’t have mental health diagnoses to add to our own medical charts to help make sense of our own struggles.

Your Family Mental Health History Lives On

Would it surprise you to find out that many mental illnesses are passed down through genetics? Alcoholism, depression, and Bipolar Disorder all have a component of genetics. If one of your parents or grandparents (or all of them) suffer with a mental health issue, the chances are high that you might too. In researching this article, I came across a similar article with this is in:

ADHD, for example, has a heritability rate of 75 percent. This means that if you have ADHD, there is a 75 percent chance that you inherited an ADHD gene or genes from at least one of your parents (Rietveld et al. 2004). Schizophrenia has a heritability rate of 64 percent, and bipolar disorder has a heritability rate of 59 percent (Lichtenstein et al. 2009).

Psychology Today

What the Stats Mean

So, you can see from those stats why you would want to know what’s swimming around in the family genetics. If we’ve learned anything in our family, it is that the best way to set yourself up for success when it comes to mental health is to know exactly what you’re dealing with and all the solutions for treating it.

How Do You Uncover Your Family Mental Health History

This is the tricky part. Sometimes there is no one to ask in the family because they aren’t available or won’t discuss it. Yes, mental illness is still very taboo for lots of people and it can be painful for them to acknowledge or discuss it out in the open. If family members are not alive or unwilling to talk about it, you can always try asking friends and distant family if you have access to them. People do tend to remember if Aunt Marie hid a vodka bottle in her nightstand or uncle Henry had an anger management problem. These behaviors can give clues to what may have been transpiring.

Research Is Your Friend

A lot of the information I’ve used to understand my issues has come straight out of books or reliable web sources. I’ve shared as much as I know with mental health professionals and sponsors and they have been able to point me in the direction of books and recovery information that helped enormously.

Read All About It

For many of us, we don’t need a psychiatrist to tell us that a parent, or relative, was unwell or abusive–we know. For me, once I had real clarity about the issues I was dealing with and the dynamics I grew up with, I let books lead the way. I write books today to connect the dots for people like me who are untangling their lives and mental health one day at a time. It’s not easy, but learning everything you can will help you find understanding and healing sooner rather than later.

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