Depression may pass from mothers to daughters

Depression appears to be passed down from mothers to daughters, say researchers who have been looking at similarities in brain structures between generations. The research is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Around 8% of Americans aged 12 years and over are affected by depression. It is commonly found in both mothers and daughters, previous human studies have reported.

Animal studies in the past have shown that when mothers are stressed during pregnancy, this is more likely to be reflected in the brain structure of daughters than of sons, specifically in the corticolimbic system.

The corticolimbic system is used to assess danger, and it is also where emotions are processed and regulated. It includes the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and stress are reflected in changes to this system. These structural changes are most likely to be passed down from mothers than from fathers; they tend to affect daughters rather than sons.

Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), led by Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, PhD., an associate professor of psychiatry, studied 35 families, none of whom had a diagnosis of depression, in an attempt to link the two study areas.



6 thoughts on “Depression may pass from mothers to daughters

  1. slkirk says:

    I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby, a daughter, and I’m honestly so worried about how my prenatal depression may affect her. I do believe and accept that there are some genetic factors at play, but I’m hopeful that her environment will have more of an impact – and my partner and I are so determined to give her the best chance any parents can give their child.


    • cherished79 says:

      First of all, congrats on being a new mom. 🙂 That is worrisome, however, to focus on what may happen will be detrimental for both you and your daughter. Just love and care for her and with the right parenting skills, you’ll be successful. Think positive, and as the article stated “depression may pass”. Thanks for the comment 🙂


  2. Kana Smith says:

    My mother is so glad that I finally got my mental-health issues diagnosed… Now I’m wishing she’d realize where I GOT them from–I’m convinced she could benefit from some of the same…


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