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 also draws the 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 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]