Strange Symptoms/Hereditary Question

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My history of problems has been seizure disorders and depression. I let neither keep me from my daily schedule. My mother (extremely great mother) has been on zanax of zoloft or something related for years and urges me to go on medication.

I’m very relaxed but mentally, I think I’m overly sensitive. I have drank too much almost daily for almost 10 years, recently cutting back and feeling benefits.

My question about hereditary is if certain illnesses are passed down and how?
I am concerned mainly because my real fathers father committed suicide due to schizophrenia. (which I first read in a book and confirmed by asking).

Although my issues with the depression are manageable, sometimes I really feel like I’m going crazy thinking. I once exhausted myself badly (I work a lot and stress a little) but I ended up in the ER and was basically hallucinating.

I only worry because I fear my depression or any other symptoms could worsen? I currently don’t have insurance, but I’m debating seeking medication to help stable my mood swings. Any direction?

A. Some disorders, such as schizophrenia, have a genetic component but it’s highly unlikely that your genetic history is having much, if any, of an impact on your symptoms. I would not consider your genetic history to be the primary cause of your symptoms.

You mentioned that you are drinking, though less so than before. Alcohol use negatively impacts mood. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant. Studies have shown that individuals who abuse alcohol have higher rates of anxiety and mood disorders. Your drinking is likely contributing to your depression, though to what degree is difficult to determine. Quitting drinking could decrease your depression.

Many people benefit from taking medication to stabilize their mood. Your mother benefited from medication and so might you. You should see a psychiatrist to evaluate whether medication would be helpful. The psychiatrist may request that you stop drinking, especially if it’s decided that medication is appropriate for your symptoms. Drinking and using prescription medications can be dangerous.

Psychotherapy could also help. A therapist could assist you in determining what is leading to your depression and why you feel compelled to drink. Many people use alcohol and/or drugs to “forget about” their problems or to numb their emotional pain. It’s better to determine what is causing your emotional pain and to develop strategies to deal with it, rather than ignore it or suppress it. Therapy could help with this.

You don’t have health insurance but you may qualify for free or low-cost services at your local community mental health center. Most communities have free or low-cost mental health services. Use the phone book or do a Google search for local community services. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Strange Symptoms/Hereditary Question. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/20/strange-symptomshereditary-question/

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