Four generations of family, possibly five, have a history that includes severe mental illness. This is not a matter of nurture as we were all raised separately. How common is this? I have chosen to not have children due to this legacy.

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Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D. - Brain & behavior research expert on schizophrenia

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon, since all forms of severe mental illness are highly heritable, in particular, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The chances of this type of scenario likely vary a lot from family to family, since the heritability and specific genes that comprise that heritability vary.

 

Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientific Council Member
Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience
Chair, Department of Neuroscience
Director, Friedman Brain Institute
Mount Sinai School of Medicine