There's an inherent worry in all young women that you might be turning your mother – regardless of how fond of her you are. The worry is more so attached to the fear associated with an unavoidable fate that makes young women nervous, rather than the fate itself. Though, no doubt, the phrase "you're turning into your mother" is loaded with negative connotations and without fail evokes defensiveness. It's typically something that people say to a young woman when she's exhibiting a characteristic that might be considered moody. Unfortunately, as it turns out, our worries are justified – we are turning into our mothers.
This week, the Journal of Neurosciences shared a discovery that suggests that there is indeed some unavoidable similarities between mothers and daughters. Their research explains that mothers and daughters have some brain road maps in common – particularly the kind that handles mood regulation and depression. While sometimes these similarities can be shared within other family members, the alikeness between mother and daughter are most significant. According to JNeruosci:
"Our findings provide new insight into the potential neuroanatomical basis of circuit-based female-specific intergenerational transmission patterns in depression."
If you've just read over that sentence seven times and are still convinced that it's not English, like I did, here's what you need to know: for ages, scientists have been trying to figure out how mood disorders and depression are or are not transferred genetically. They've already proven that exposure to mental illness can have significant effects on the exposed, but it's been much harder to prove that just being related to someone with a mood disorder or depression makes you very likely to develop similarly. With their new findings, scientists believe that the part of the mother's brain that dictates mood, is both constructed similarly and holds transmission patterns similar to that in the brain of her daughter's. So, if your mother suffers from anxiety and depression, there's a significant chance that her daughter might as well – based on the way their brain circuitry is played out.
But before you call your mother to blame her genes for all of your issues, (yes, I see you there, put the phone down!) keep in mind that this is a new study and it's only been tested on 35 healthy females. It's certainly valuable information to keep in the back of your mind and certainly an interesting topic to breach with your friends this weekend, but let's give the research a little bit more time to cook. There's no reason to point fingers and condemn and upset your mother just yet – because remember, if you upset your mother, you eventually upset yourself. Just kidding. Kind of. Not really.
And in the spirit of mother-daughter relationships, here is a scary one: