Where does depression start? My answer is simple: I don’t know. But I do have a few ideas …
Firstly: Can it be inherited? I think so, yes. (Do remember that this is not a scientific paper, but a personal view.). I think however, it is not always inherited in the physical sense, but in the sense that it can be carried from generation to generation in other ways than the physical. The important thing for me was to realize I cannot simply blame my ancestors.
I think we often inherit depression in a more subtle way. And therefore a more dangerous way. I believe the danger lies in attitudes and ways of thinking which are (unconsciously) carried from generation to generation. It is important to remember that this happens unconsciously. Although most of us have some little (or bigger!) grievances towards our parents, we know that no parent is perfect and that every adult swear he will never make the same mistakes with his children. (And then we proceed to make our own – which makes me think of the Springsteen song A long way coming on the Devils and dust album, where the father expresses the desire that his kids will be free to make their own mistakes.)
Our parents are our first role models, and we know a small child automatically imitate his parents. Of course until the hormones of the teen years kick in, and then we try to be the exact opposite from our parents. But it is a fact that we follow their example. And if that example includes a lifestyle which is a good breeding-ground for depression, we also follow that. I think this is a given, we can’t help it.
Some offspring may realize the danger early, and make conscious choices to avoid the danger. Others’ basic personality may not make them susceptible to depression. But others may just have the personality where the seed of depression can germinate and grow into a large, toxic tree.
Of course we can do something about is. (And of course nobody has said it will be easy!) Firstly one can identify the problem. For example: “My father never spoke about his feelings and I have grown up with the idea that a man should not talk about emotions. Or, even better, that a man does not have emotions. But I have realized that this does not work for me. And from now on I am going to do things differently.”
No, I do not think we should all start a session of parent bashing here, because we know they loved us and did the very best they could. But we can firstly try to identify the patterns we have inherited which can be to our disadvantage. Secondly we can start working on forgiveness. (Which can of course be a long process.) And thirdly we can start changing those patterns. (Which can of course be a life-long process.)
This boils down to the fact that the blaming game helps nobody. I had take responsibility for myself before I could start making changes for the better.
Do I get this right all the time? Of course not! But at least I keep on working at it.