Illustration: Richard Mia
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Anyone feeling particularly down lately?
Asking your relatives about their emotional state may cause some awkwardness, but it's crucial. Despite the fact that depression affects more than 20 million Americans, it is one of the most underdiagnosed family illnesses. If your relatives are reluctant to open up, tell them this: Research shows that 40 to 50 percent of depression cases appear to be genetic. In fact, depression is so deeply entwined with family history that one of the first questions asked by mental health providers is whether relatives have ever suffered from it. If you discover a pattern in your family, alert your doctor and be watchful for the signs, like losing interest in activities you normally enjoy or feeling sad all day for more than two weeks.