“It Runs in the Family”

Julie Kittka

Blog Post #3



Growing up my father used to stay at home some days when he felt “sick” or “under the weather”.  He never appeared to have a cough or a cold so as a young child I did not really grasp the concept of a “personal day”.  He would stay at home and take time to work on personal projects, pay bills, do some handiwork, or just catch up on sleep.  I did not realize until later in life that these sick days were for my father to cope with his anxiety and depression.  Sometimes the environment in which he worked – a very fast-paced office space with cut-throat co-workers – was too much for him to handle.  He explained to me that he would have these irrational thoughts that always began with “what if”.  He would question his skills and qualifications to be working for his company, he would question his relationship with other co-workers and his boss, and this constant questioning greatly interfered with his ability to work.  My father would take personal days to calm his nerves and get back on track.  Dealing with anxiety and depression most of his adult life, he knew some tips and tricks that helped him control these uncontrollable notions.

When my sister was a little older, she developed the same type of thought-processes and behaviors.  Our high school was highly competitive in regards to grades and keeping up with other students was not as easy for my sister as it was for me.  Sometimes this fear of being left behind or not being good enough would keep my sister up all night long.  I did not know what was going on at the time because my father would just tell me “it’s just something that runs in the family” when she had one of her episodes.

Now that I have a clearer definition and understanding of anxiety and depression, I feel that it is easier for me to relate and cope with my sister’s and my father’s episodes.  It left me wondering, is anxiety and depression heritable?  Would my future children be somewhat susceptible to a similar disorder?  It also left me wondering if it has something to do with childhood development.  Because we are around our parents during childhood and throughout our adolescence, do parents with these disorders have an influence on how their children develop and specifically how they develop similar disorders?  I suppose my question(s) are a summed up in a simple question: which has more prevalence in these disorders – nature or nurture?

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