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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resource Center for Families & Educators


Environment vs. Biology and Teen Mental Health

Under the direction of Dr. Ramsey Khasho, CHC staff members and other expert contributors provide answers to questions about the serious issue of teen anxiety and depression in our community.
“Environment vs. Biology” addresses questions such as whether depression is rooted in biology, environment, or both.

Environment vs. Biology

1. Do you believe depression is always caused by the environment? My family has been told that their depression issues are chemical.

No. Depression is not always caused by the environment. The cause of depression can be rooted in biology (i.e., heredity, gender, age, etc.), environment (i.e., traumatic event, poor peer relationships, etc.) or both. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause and there is still much we do not know or understand about the cause of anxiety and depression. Therefore, we often refer to these variables that are often intertwined (biology and environment) as risk factors versus causes.

2. Chris Harris said in his introduction that “children are not born anxious or depressed” but that they are environmentally made. Doesn’t that statement neglect that this is not just environment but also physical/chemical?

As stated above, anxiety and depression are not always caused by the environment. As an educator, Chris was trying to highlight based on experience how the environment can be a strong risk factor in the lives of kids and teens, and more importantly, how educators can make environmental changes to positively impact the negative effects of anxiety and depression on teens.

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Other posts in this series:

Teen Mental Health Q&A Introduction
Middle School Kids Ages 10-12 and Younger
Profile of High Risk Kids
Redefining Success
The Role of Social Media
How Schools Can Help
How Parents Can Help
How Peers Can Help
Other Concerns

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