Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
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September 6, 2022

Epigenetic Trauma Explained

While researchers once thought genetics was the most significant influence on a developing personality, we now know the circumstances and environment of a person’s upbringing can markedly affect their experiences and decisions as an adult. If you experience trauma, you might be at risk of passing the resulting emotional issues along to your children unless you take steps to break the cycle.

Is Trauma Heritable?

A leading premise of developmental psychology is that traumatic events your ancestors went through can affect your life, even if you did not experience the trauma firsthand. The idea is that extreme distress can leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, which they can then pass on to future generations.

The changes from trauma do not affect the genes themselves. Instead, they alter gene function, which is what’s known as epigenetic. Children born to parents who experienced trauma could have higher chances of developing health issues like chronic disease and behavioral disorders. It’s also possible for the stress caused by ongoing traumatic events to change the brain’s structure and function, as observed in brain scans of people with PTSD.

In addition, cultural, psychological or socioeconomic factors might influence epigenetic trauma. For instance, traumatized adults who go on to become parents may be emotionally unavailable, anxious or depressed, and their children will pick up on these issues, thus passing the trauma on to a new generation.

How to Deal With Epigenetic Trauma

Many people unconsciously return to the patterns of their childhood, even when they know specific behaviors are unhealthy. Because familiarity is comforting, children whose parents harmed or neglected them may repeat the cycle by ending up in an abusive, unstable relationship as adults. Similarly, if you grew up surrounded by adults who drank or used drugs, you might never learn more productive ways to deal with complex emotions.

Every parent wants the best for their children, but you may worry about the ripple effects of epigenetic trauma. Integrated trauma treatment guided by a trained therapist is essential to break the cycle, learn to let go of internalized negativity and ensure you don’t pass the harmful behaviors along to future generations. Healing from epigenetic trauma can be a complex process, but with patience and commitment, you can create a healthier family dynamic.

Trauma and Addiction Treatment

Trauma can affect every facet of your life. If you find it challenging to talk about the events that traumatized you and how you feel about them, a compassionate clinician can help you begin healing those wounds. Connecting with the emotional damage created by trauma opens the door to improved awareness, so you can start understanding how to work toward a better future.

At Beach House, we believe addressing trauma is foundational for successfully treating addiction. If you would like to experience our industry-leading integrated trauma treatment program for yourself, please contact us today. Our warm, welcoming staff are here 24/7 to take your confidential call and answer any questions you might have about recovering in Juno Beach, Florida.