Consider this, mental illness affects nearly 20% of US citizens, including both adults and children.
It isn't just because we're stressed out, or that we've experienced trauma, or that we're in bad relationships. Mood disorders and other mental illnesses are more than situational.
Your emotional reality isn't all in your head, but it is in your brain. More specifically, your genetic makeup (or genome) will affect how your brain functions and how your body metabolizes drugs. In fact, genetic dosing information appears on the label of at least 260 medications.
Behavioral traits might be hardwired into your DNA, your genetic building blocks. Knowing how your genes affect your brain can shed light on the most common mental health disorders.
This is where family history might influence risk. If your parent has heart disease for example, you're at an increased risk of heart disease. The same is true of some mental health conditions. If mental health problems run in your family, you could be at an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder. And family history includes both shared genetics and shared environments.
Scientists are studying how our genes interact with our environment, and possibly contribute to our mental health state. Other studies look to reveal the many different genes that may contribute to increasing your risk of developing certain mental disorders.
It's not yet possible to use genetic information to predict who will develop mental disorders, and genetics can't be used to diagnose mental illness. However, researchers are hopeful that someday soon genetics can be integrated into all aspects of mental health—from diagnosis to treatment.