Sometimes people worry that they are going to “pass on” an illness to their child…or that someone else will pass on their illness and make their child “suffer” with the illness. The fact is, there is a genetic component to mental illness. Especially studied have been autism, ADHD, depression, bi-polar, and schizophrenia. The risk of the child inheriting this goes up exponentially if both parents have the disorder. This is not to say that it is “bad” to have a child if you have one of these diagnoses, or that your child will be doomed to suffer either. There is also a role environment plays. I remember reading a study of identical twins who were separated at birth. There was a family history of schizophrenia. As the twins became adults, one developed schizophrenia and the other didn’t. Why? It is not 100% known, but environment also seems to play a factor in the development of mental illnesses. Another very cool fact is that if one family member reacts well to a certain medication, the likelihood that others in the family diagnosed with that illness will respond well to the same medication. So if you spent 15 years trying to find the right anti-depressant, your child will not necessarily have to go through that same “guinea pig” feeling. There are always new advances in treatment also. If you believe your child has a mental illness that was potentially inherited or not, bring your child to the doctor. Inform the doctor of any mental health history in the family and ask questions of the doctor. Do not be afraid to stop the stigma of mental illness and bring the issue to the surface to get treated early.