A GP guide to familial risk for depression and bipolar disorder

GPs are better-positioned than mental health workers to educate people on genetic risks for these illnesses, and to be vigilant for early warning signs

In Australia, the lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder is estimated at 11.6%1 and that of bipolar disorder at 1.3%.2

mother son family depression

Major depressive disorder, sometimes called clinical depression or unipolar depression and involves low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities lasting at least two weeks.3

The key characteristic of bipolar disorder is the occurrence of distinct episodes of opposing extremes of mood — namely, hypomania/mania and depression.2,3