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Forums / Anxiety / Predisposition to mental illnesses???

Topic: Predisposition to mental illnesses???

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. avatar
    211 posts
    24 September 2017

    I know that the causes of mental illnesses are very complex, and likely a combination of genes, environment and brain chemical balance. Somehow, I think I am predisposed to mental illnesses because of my family history. I am not diagnosed with anything by professionals, but I get anxious and stressed more easily than average people. For example, when I learnt that the firemen just put off a fire next to my building, I got stressed even though no one was hurt (could not sleep for one night), but then other people will just say "Oh no! That's awful!" and forget about it. Things that most people think are trivial can make me jump up. Even not-so-close friends describe me as "paranoid". My psychologist does not think it is unusual though. She just puts it down to my sensitivity towards stress (indeed I am).

    Here comes my family history. I was raised by an anxious grandma (my mum's mum) because my parents were working full time. She gets stressed over small things. I might have learnt that from grandma, though I only started to be like her since I left home and lived alone. She is not diagnosed with anxiety but depression, and is on medication. My cousin from my father side has very severe depression which is not well managed despite trying all treatments. I have a few more relatives from both my mum and dad's sides having mental illnesses, and sadly they are not doing well. Nevertheless, my parents and sister are all good, i.e. they don't have any mental illnesses, and none of them are as stressed as me. My psychologist asked me not to worry because I am proactive in seeking professional help, which should greatly reduce my chance of getting a mental illness. Still, given my anxious personality, I worry about getting a mental illnesses one day. Is there anybody who successfully combats mental illnesses despite a strong family history? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Blue Jane
    Champion Alumni
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    Blue Jane avatar
    195 posts
    24 September 2017 in reply to

    Hi there

    Thanks for sharing. Agreed, mental illness is very complex and the trigger points even more so. I am curious that you haven't formally been diagnosed but you see a psychologist. How long have you seen your psychologist for? Are the sessions working for you? I have seen a few psychologists and counsellors and I find them very helpful - I see them as an important part of managing my anxiety.

    What do you do find as the main triggers of your stress?

    I wouldn't worry too much about having a mental to answer your question, it can be effectively managed. Many people have a mental illness and manage it like any other illness eg diabetes and heart disease. My husband and I have had our ups and downs with our illness and at the moment we are both working in great jobs, healthy, happy and expecting our first baby in December. But it takes ongoing management for us both ie exercise, diet, down time and letting the other person know when things are starting to get overwhelming.

    There is a lot of diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illness in my family but I see it more as a positive - we all seem to understand it but we don't talk about it too much as there are happier things to discuss. Saying that, my brother had a bad patch recently and we were all there to help him through it.

    What are your hobbies and interests? What makes you happy?

    Blue Jane

  3. avatar
    211 posts
    25 September 2017 in reply to Blue Jane

    Hi Blue Jane,

    I have been seeing a psychologist on and off for nearly 10 years. I completed quite a few diagnostic questionnaires on anxiety with my psychologist and the mindspot clinic. I do not qualify for an anxiety disorder. Although I tend to struggle badly with some physical symptoms when I am anxious, these only last for a day or two. I need to be feeling the same "on more days than not" to be considered having a disorder. It is good to hear that I am okay, but my sensitivity towards stress makes me think that I am susceptible to a mental disorder. I know mental illnesses are treatable and manageable, but seeing my grandma and cousin struggling somehow makes me worry that I will be like them one day. My grandma is doing well on medication at the moment. It took her a few trials before getting the right one, and she still suffers from liver damage from one of the meds she took. My cousin got depression some 10 years ago. She had been doing fine on medication but things went downward spiral a few years back. She is sleeping all day long and she has remained jobless since then. I know perhaps these are just some negative stories and they happen to be someone close to me, but it is difficult to shake it off somehow.

    Other than your suggestions on lifestyle (diet, exercise etc.) and stress management, I can only think of maintaining contact with my psychologist. She has been very helpful.

    Thanks for your sharing. Wish you and your family the best with the new addition!

  4. Blue Jane
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Blue Jane avatar
    195 posts
    25 September 2017 in reply to

    Thanks for your wishes.

    Sounds like your best method is the psychologist - which is great. A helpful one is hard to find!

    Glad to hear that about your grandma. However I feel for your cousin. And of course that would have an impact on you as it is someone close to you who you care about. I hope something changes for her soon.

  5. avatar
    211 posts
    1 October 2017 in reply to Blue Jane

    My psychologist is very helpful, and I can only think of this route to prevent myself from getting a mental illness. I am reasonably knowledgeable on the subject, as I did a biomedical science degree at uni. I know a great deal of diseases. I can explain the "fight or flight response" very well, but dealing with it myself is a totally different story.

    I would not say I am very close to my cousin. I last saw her 5 years ago and she was fine at the time. She is the daughter of my dad's sister, so I hear a lot about her from my dad. I heard that she would be starting a new course of medication. Let's hope that she will be okay.

  6. azarrah
    azarrah avatar
    50 posts
    1 October 2017 in reply to

    Hi Hope,

    Yes, you can be predisposed to mental illness, as there are genetic aspects to it, just like many other disorders caused (at least in part) by chemical imbalances. The way your parents' brains work is genetically determined, so it can be passed onto you - though the effects are different for everyone!

    Be careful not to get too hung up on developing a mental illness. I suspect that the more you worry about it, the more stressed out you are likely to become. If it happens, it happens, but you can cross that bridge when you come to it. To be honest, there is a fine line between being a stressed-out worrier, or a rather down person, and having depression or anxiety, so the distinction is probably not as important as the effect it's having on your life.

    Hope you have a great night!

  7. Meowface
    Meowface avatar
    73 posts
    3 October 2017
    I have a history of mental illness in my family including alcoholism, suicide, manic depression, post traumatic stress disorder etc. Part of it is probably genetic but there might be something in how we are raised by our family and the thinking patterns we pass to each other when learning about the world we live in. I try to focus on self-development and what I can do to look after my health as best I can.
  8. avatar
    211 posts
    7 October 2017 in reply to Meowface
    Thanks azarrah and Meowface. I think I am just overwhelmed by the amount of stress I have at the moment. I tend to overreact a bit when I am stressed out. It is not great when I hear my cousin is struggling, and somehow I worry that I will become like her. I would try not to stress too much and relax. I really should believe in my psychologist's comment that my risk of getting a mental illness is not that high, because I am proactive in seeking help.

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