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Intergenerational Trauma Will Be The Next Buzzword

Until recently, only one study has stood out about the effects of trauma from one generation to the next. A small study on the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors found that it might be possible that trauma is passed on. Recently, however, more studies have surfaced which have found different effects of trauma from one generation to the next. Findings have included a higher risk for mental illness, a higher risk for birth defect, a higher risk for post party depression, and much more.

How many generations back trauma can travel and what effects intergenerational trauma can have has still been up for conversation and debate. However, The Atlantic published an article in October of 2018 titled “Inherited Trauma Shapes Your Health” which contributes to the argument that intergenerational trauma can go very far back, as far back as the Civil War, and that the effects are genetic.

The article reports on a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which looked at the lineage of Union Army soldiers during the Civil War. “They found that the sons of Union Army soldiers who endured grueling conditions as prisoners of war were more likely to die young than the sons of soldiers who were not prisoners.” Of course, these sons were born sometime after the war, but the effect of the stress their fathers experienced during the war may have had a significant impact.

According to the article, researchers controlled for factors which influence longevity, including “socioeconomic status and the quality of the parents’ marriages”. With all other potential factors taken out of the equation, researchers were able to hypothesize that “this effect on mortality is working through epigenetics, or the process by which genes are switched on and off.” The researchers don’t assign the causation of shorter lifespan to the trauma of war specifically, but the stress caused by the trauma of war, and other stressors involved in war like malnutrition. All of the stress-inducing factors leave specific “epigenetic markers” which essentially change the way DNA formulates itself moving from one generation to the next.

As science reveals more information about the changes in our genetics due to the impact of trauma and stress our awareness of and interest in intergenerational trauma will grow. We are always looking for answers as to where our pain, suffering, and stress comes from. The more we learn, the more insight we have for healing.

Everyone has a story of trauma before they come treatment. Everyone leaves with a story of recovery when they leave treatment. The Guest House Ocala is a private treatment center specializing in the treatment of trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Your program of care is customized according to your specific experiences and needs. Our luxury amenities provide the highest level of quality care and comfort so you feel safe, supported, and serene. Call us today for information: 1-855-483-7800