The heritable component of depression is large. Depending on the nature of the study, the heritability of depression is estimated at anywhere from 29% (for men, in a Swedish twin study) to 75% (in a British twin study). Heritability of bipolar affective disorder is even greater (85% in another British twin study). All told, a child with a parent who has depression has double or triple the risk of an average child of developing major depressive disorder.
Imagine the suffering that could be prevented if all of us with severe depression - especially of the endogenous type particularly likely to be heritable - avoided reproducing. It is not the case that every person who has suffered depression wishes she hadn't been born. But it need not be a 1:1 correlation to imply a duty to avoid reproducing.
A woman in her 40s who conceives a child with her own egg is rightly considered to be irresponsible, because of the risk of mental retardation to her child. But that risk (one in a hundred at maternal age 40) is nothing compared to the risk of severe depression in the child of a severely depressed person.
Many of us who are explicitly not glad to be here have parents who suffered from depression, diagnosed or not. Thirty-three years ago, when my own mother made the awful decision to have a child, the heritability of depression was not well understood.
But now it is undeniable.
If you have been depressed, the chances that your child will experience depression are high, especially if your depression is severe. Reproduction by a depressed person is at best irresponsible, at worst cruel. (This is true even though depressed and bipolar people make all the art.)
Please don't make more of us! Thanks!
Science says new parents have a higher risk of developing depression; perky blonde disagrees.