Your family history can pose important effects on your mental health, effects that all too often go unacknowledged. As we learn more and more about mental illness, it has become increasingly clear that some mental health disorders could have a genetic component. In addition, a mental illness in a family member can create additional environmental factors that can fuel future mental illness for children in that family. Within the complicated interplay between genetic and environmental factors, it becomes evident that a family therapy program can be an essential part of mental health treatment.
At Atlanta Center for Mental Health, we work to understand how family history may affect mental health. We counter that effect with a wide variety of therapies, medications, and treatments. We have helped many families improve their communication, overcome behavioral issues, resolve conflicts, and understand mental illness. To learn more about how Atlanta Center for Mental Health can help you understand your own family mental health dynamics, call 833.625.0458.
How Your Mental Health Family History Affects You
Though your genetics are far from guaranteeing you will develop mental health issues, your family history can increase your vulnerability. This can be seen in the strong correlation between family members and serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Studies have found genetic chromosomal mutations among those with mental illnesses as well. Similarly, our habits and environment can impact our biology in ways that can then spread genetically. If your parents live with issues like chronic stress, poor diet, or environmental toxins, you are more likely to develop mental health problems.
Though genetic factors may influence your susceptibility to mental illness, environmental factors also play a significant role. Many people who experience traumatic or stressful situations in childhood go on to express mental illness in the future. Similarly, if you grow up amid dangerous risk-taking behavior, you may be predisposed to adopting these behaviors yourself, making you more likely to experience mental illness. Some of the environmental factors which can affect your mental health include:
- Violence, abuse, or neglect at home
- Witnessing or being subject to violent acts in your community
- A family member attempting or committing suicide
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Having parents who are separated/divorced
- Having a household member be incarcerated
How Family Therapy Can Help
Family therapy can help address the unhealthy family dynamics that may play a role in your own mental health issues or those of a loved one. When one family member is dealing with mental illness or addiction, this affects the whole family. Families can fall into unhealthy patterns, such as lying, fighting, or acting out. These patterns can be so embedded that they continue even as the family member with mental illness moves into recovery. Family therapy works on helping families break out of these unhealthy patterns and heal. Some of the positive benefits of family therapy can include:
- Building healthy boundaries
- Better communication
- Closer interpersonal relationships
- Providing better coping mechanisms
- Improving the family’s conflict resolution skills
- Improved ability to express emotions
- Settling marital problems
Learn More About Family History and Mental Health With Atlanta Center for Mental Health
Even though family history is important when understanding mental health, it is also only one factor at play in mental illnesses. A familial history of mental illness does not make your mental health struggles any less treatable. In fact, an understanding of your family history can make it easier to diagnose and treat your own mental illness. Family therapy can also provide the chance for you to learn how mental illness affects your family and to collectively address its symptoms and begin recovery. Family dynamics are complicated, and every family will have a lot to learn. But the first step for healing is to begin treatment. Call Atlanta Center for Mental Health at 833.625.0458 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about family therapy today.