Can the Effects of Trauma Be Passed Down Through the Generations?

Cindy Wilson Thumbby Cindy Wilson
BS, Dietetics and Nutrition

Most people believe that trauma is an isolated incident that can be resolved with therapy. But did you know that trauma can be passed down through genetics? That can make a situation more complicated because an individual may not understand why they react a certain way to specific stimuli. Here is how trauma affects genetics.

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What Is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics is a recent scientific field that examines how the environment affects genes. It doesn’t examine how the DNA sequence is altered, but how the body reads and uses it. Attending a php mental health treatment center can help to undo this, but it helps to understand how trauma actually affects the genetic sequence.

Consider DNA like a book. Instead of trauma changing the alphabet of the book, it changes how the DNA is expressed, affecting one’s health, moods, and susceptibility to certain conditions.

Environmental Factors Turn Genes On And Off

DNA is present in every cell in the body, and epigenetic modifications can change the cell’s function by turning certain genes on or off. It’s these modifications that can be passed down through genetic material. Factors like stress can sometimes trigger these genes in descendants in the future, turning certain ones on.

These changes are not definitive, however, but are adaptable and can be rewritten by life experiences and actions that can overwrite the trauma encoded in the genes.

What Does Generational Trauma Feel Like?

It can feel different for everyone, but it typically makes it difficult for a person to trust others, they tend to feel hopeless, or they experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can also feel different throughout the different stages of a person’s life.

It’s important to identify the root cause of your traumatic responses, acknowledge it, examine how it impacts your behavior, and seek support from professionals to address the trauma.

Evidence Of Generational Trauma

There are symptoms and certain behaviors that can indicate whether you are experiencing generational trauma. These include:

● Hypervigilance

● Codependency

● Substance abuse

● Unhealthy attachment styles

● Having difficulty trusting others

Having mental health conditions (anxiety, negative thoughts/feelings, difficulty managing stress, PTSD, depression, difficulty regulating emotions)

Breaking Generational Trauma

It is possible for generational trauma to be broken, but it does take time, energy, and therapy to help you recognize those problems and address them accordingly. The signs of generational trauma being broken include:

● Not being afraid of change

● Being more open and trusting with others

● Having the ability to express and talk about one’s emotions

● Being able to face one’s fears

● Feeling more connected to themselves and family members

There are three ways that a person can break their generational trauma. The most significant way is to have open and honest communication with family members. Secondly, you can observe and gain awareness of the behavior patterns of your family members and whether you contribute to those patterns. Lastly, you can speak to a therapist and learn healthy ways to cope with the trauma so that you can start the healing process.

If you believe that you are dealing with generational trauma, speak to a mental health professional today.

About Author

Cindy Wilson Thumb
BS, Nutrition & Food Science | Connect with on LinkedIn
Cindy Wilson

Hello, I am Cindy, and this a website where I inspect everything related to nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I have a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition (Kansas State University) and have completed a dozen specialty courses related to nutrition, biochemistry, and food science. I am open to learning more, but foremost I would like to share all my knowledge with you.

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