This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Like Attracts Like - What Happens When Mentally Ill People Have Children

Like Attracts Like
I've always assumed this was the case, but this study actually shows that people with a psychiatric diagnosis "connecting" with someone with a psychiatric diagnosis was two to three times higher than for people without a psychiatric diagnosis. They also seemed to be more attracted to people with a similar diagnosis to themselves and are less likely to marry.

"Nonrandom mating is evident in psychiatric populations both within specific disorders and across the spectrum of psychiatric conditions. This phenomenon may hold important implications for how we understand the familial transmission of these disorders and for psychiatric genetic research."
This study from the famous Karolinska Insitute in Sweden examined over 700,000 men and women with psychiatric diagnoses and compared them to over three million people without psychiatric diagnoses. Swedish Study published in JAMA Psychiatriy
{Marythemom: We definitely saw this with Bear and his "Kleenex Girls."}

Increased Risk Factors
Many mentally ill people live in poverty and engage in any number of risky behaviors such as prostitution to earn money or support drug habits. Generally, the severely mentally ill lack the forethought and coherence of mind to actually take a birth-control pill every day, let alone the medications that help their mental functioning. Many abuse illegal drugs as a way of self-medicating.

Often, mentally ill adults tend to gravitate toward each other due to socio-economic status and behavioral habits. Mentally ill female patients are exposed to any number of dangerous situations which makes them vulnerable to rape and sexual assault. Thus, there are many pregnancies created out of terrible circumstances and often the father is not known.

It Takes Two
Psychiatric disorders are heritable, polygenic traits, which often share risk alleles - which means that if 2 people with similar diagnoses get together and make a baby...

For example:
Although schizophrenia develops in only about 1% of the population, having a parent with schizophrenia increases the risk to 10%. The odds increase to 30% to 40% if both parents are schizophrenic. Schizophrenic Risk Factors

What Happens When Mentally Ill People Have Children
Teen pregnancy rates among Canadian girls with major psychiatric disorders (bipolar, severe depression, psychotic disorders) was found to be three times higher than the average population.

Such girls were more likely to have more children following the birth of their first; “Services focused on counseling girls who already have delivered one child may also be important because the rates of multiple births are higher among those with major mental illness.”

Statistically, children of the mentally ill have a higher chance of becoming mentally ill themselves.
 Nature and Nurture;
Severe mental illness has a strong genetic factor.
Add to that the stress and chaos of being raised by a severely mentally ill parent, or the child being passed around to foster parents or group homes, and it creates the perfect storm for developing any number of mood disorders, behavioral problems, and juvenile delinquency, let alone the increased possibility of the onset of a neurological disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

These conditions can lead the child to a life of illness, poverty, crime, and self-destruction... and future generations of mentally ill children. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This has always made me so sad. We, as a people, have so many rights that no one can tell us to reproduce or not reproduce. But, when will we as a society wake up and realize that we are not looking at what this freedom does to the child that is brought into this world? There is so much attention given to domestic violence these days, and rightfully so. But, how do these abusers get that way? I believer it's from having a disruptive childhood, being passed from family to family and never feeling safe. So of course, they get controlling, so they can feel safe. Then, like this article says, two people that both have problems get together, so we have control issues on each side. It is bound to get explosive in a relationship where neither party is stable. I wish I knew the answer. In the meantime, I am just extremely sad.