Orchid Hypothesis: A Possible Answer To Why Genes For Depression Survived Throughout Evolution

Psychologists believe that every relation in a person’s life is the reflection of his/her very first relation, the parent-child relation. So, if a child is genetically predisposed to suffer depression, anxiety or other behavioral problems, parent can somewhat  prevent it.

Some 3/4 years ago, a hypothesis came out – that depending on a children’s personality traits, they can be divided into two categories, ‘Normal’ children who survive any good or bad environment with indifferent reactions, they can withstand bad situations like dandelion which grows anywhere. The second category comprises of those children who, if provided with bad environment would fail to achieve as much as a normal or dandelion child but would perform extraordinarily if provided with suitable environment that fulfills their emotional and physical needs. These are the Orchid children, they wilt when neglected and blooms when nourished.

Orchid Hypothesis: A Possible Answer To Why Genes For Depression Survived Throughout Evolution

This Hypothesis also draws conclusion to a question scientists have always wondered, “Why genes causing depression and anxiety have survived evolution?”.

This probably happens because these genes causing dysfunction in unfavorable environments, also enhance function in favorable environment. So, this genetic sensitivity is experienced as a reaction to both positive and negative environments but when it is facilitated by external factors like cooperating parents, it can lead to an increased development of social skills and more creativity than the dandelion children or those carrying normal gene,under similar circumstances.

So, nature selected dandelions due to their ability to to cope with any situation and survive, while Orchids were selected for being extraordinary in the ‘right’ environment.

According to scientists about a quarter of humans carrying depression gene while more than fifth have gene variant for depression, anxiety, antisocial or violent behavior. As for well being of an Orchid child, parents require a different behavioral strategy to respond to their child’s emotions.

As Orchids can be effected by changes in other people’s moods, the parents should keep their moods neutral when treating such kids. Also, they should mirror a child’s behavior that way he will feel understood, behavioral mirroring has been shown to release Oxytocin, which in turn stimulates social interaction.

[Image Credit: J Man | Flickr]

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27 thoughts on “Orchid Hypothesis: A Possible Answer To Why Genes For Depression Survived Throughout Evolution

    • It does and if parents know how to handle psychological and emotional needs for their children, world would have been a better place, alas there are not many parents like that. Most parents want their children to grow up to be people like them which is pretty difficult for some kids who possess ‘originality’ and a zeal to experiment and learn rather than learn and experiment.

    • Yes, this makes sense. If the parent wants badly to change their child into a more social butterfly, I believe this can do harm. Not every young girl can be a cheerleader or be the absolute center of attention or even want to be. All are born with their own talents and abilities. A parent should encourage these special gifts instead of pushing toward the supposed norm.

      • Absolutely, when parents force such behaviors on children, it cannot only harm their emotional development but also can have physical impact like a child engaging in self-harm or drugs, out of depression because he doesn’t feel understood by his/her perspective about people and life itself.

      • It’s funny, so much of the research now seems to point to accepting your kid for who he is, and treating them with respect. I still hear from people who spank, “well I turned out okay.” This theory speaks to the opposite of that: just because you were a dandelion doesn’t mean your kid is.

    • @Jamie Brogdon You don’t have to feel crazy for suffering from anxiety, sounds like you have been an orchid kid, I bet you’ve got some creative talents. It’s mostly very intelligent people who suffer from anxiety and depressive disorder. Please consult a psychiatrist if it’s interfering with you everyday life, if it’s mild, you can overcome it with your healthy diet, exercise, keeping your mind busy and thinking positive. Good luck! :)

  1. The teaching advice seems sensible; given the complexity of genetics, epigenetics etc. the explanation seems subject to future understanding from a fast-moving field. Interesting!

  2. Awesome article. From an evolutionary genetics point of view, I agree that there must be an upside to depression. While it would be much better, of course, if depression didn’t exist, I still support finding ‘positive outcomes’ of bad situations (like the existence of depression in humans) given that these problems already exist. Just as you wrote.

    Thank you!

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