If you struggle with mental health issues, it’s understandable that you would want to uncover its roots, including whether you may have inherited any of the patterns from your parents. The answer to whether mental health problems are genetic is a complicated one.
Are Mental Health Issues a Product of Genetics or the Environment?
Some mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and PTSD, are more likely to be inherited from your ancestry than other disorders.
Inherited Mental Health in Children of 9/11 Attack Survivors
A study conducted by a trauma research team consisted of 187 pregnant women who had witnessed the horrors of the 9/11 attacks. They were at risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which revolves around nightmares, flashbacks, emotional indifference, and other psychiatric symptoms later on. The goal was to examine whether the unborn fetuses were at risk.
When the babies were born, they were a lot smaller in size than regular babies – the first sign that their mothers’ PTSD had affected them too. Nine months later, 38 women with PTSD and their newborn babies were examined in a clinical setting.
The mothers showed abnormally low cortisol levels, a stress-related hormone. Surprisingly enough, the saliva of the infants of women with PTSD also showed low cortisol levels. This effect was commonly found in women in their third trimester when the attacks occurred.
Other studies have confirmed that emotional or high stress experiences impact the upcoming generation through different routes. The most common pathway is through parental behavior, but effects during gestation and changes in sperm and eggs may also play a vital role.
One of the critical components of these studies is epigenetics, which are changes in how genes function. Epigenetics explains why the impact of trauma can persist even after the immediate threat has subsided. It is also associated with the diverse pathways through which trauma is transferred to the next generations.
Inherited Trauma in Children of Holocaust Survivors
The concept of epigenetics can be better explained through the example of Joseph, the oldest son of holocaust survivors. At first glance, Joseph seemed like a regular guy, a handsome and wealthy investment banker who might as well have stepped out from a magazine cover.
While things seemed normal on the surface, it was soon revealed that Joseph lived every day with a constant sense that something terrible would happen. Due to the trauma passed down from his parents, he had prepared himself for the worst ever since his 20s.
He regularly kept money and jewelry at hand and started learning self-defense techniques like martial arts and boxing. He also experienced frequent panic attacks and night terrors. These occurrences are documented in adult children of Holocaust survivors who routinely suffer from guilt, grief, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships, and low levels of cortisol. This can be explained by a study published in Biological Psychiatry that found epigenetic changes in children of Holocaust survivors. The researchers focused on FKBP5, a stress gene linked to depression, anxiety, mood, and PTSD. The results show that Holocaust exposure had an impact on FKBP5 methylation – a mechanism that controls the gene’s expression – that was observed in parents exposed to the trauma of concentration camps, along with their children, many of whom showed symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Environmental Factors and Mental Health Issues
Even though genes are essential in laying the foundation for specific mental health issues, the environment can play a significant role in nurturing that illness. For example, anxiety tends to be an inherited disorder but still has genetic and environmental elements contributing to its development. Studies on close family members and twins show that genetics can play a major role in the development of anxiety disorder, contributing around 30 to 50%.
Environmental factors that can worsen inherited mental health issues include:
- Childhood Trauma: Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during childhood and teenage years can lead to a higher risk of developing mental health problems. Natural disasters, a stressful home environment, and the loss of a loved one are also primary contributors.
- Emotional damage: Bullying and negative school experiences can damage emotional health in the longterm. For example, the “cultural genocide” committed against Indigenous children in Canada’s residential schools.
- Substance Abuse: Early exposure to tobacco, alcohol, and other illicit drugs, either in childhood or parentally, is primarily associated with the development of mental illnesses that go beyond substance use disorder. This pattern can be observed in the case of Indigenous tribes. According to National Survey on Drug use and Health, more than 26% of Native Americans aged 12 and above reported marijuana abuse alone. One of the main reasons for high rates of addiction is intergenerational trauma.
Overcoming Mental Health Issues Inherited from Your Family
It is no surprise that we are all subjected to genetic vulnerability regarding mental health issues. While we cannot eliminate the genetic risk factor passed down to us, we can try to manage our environmental factors so that our mental health jar of negative symptoms fills up more slowly.
According to Eastern ancient traditions… we can begin to diminish layers of these symptoms by utilizing various processes. Ayurveda practices for overcoming intergenerational trauma include breathing exercises, aerobic exercises, meditation, and consuming a vegetarian diet rich in root vegetables. Programs such as Qi Gong and tai chi are also helpful in producing positive outcomes for many traumatized individuals and communities.
The way to overcome the symptoms of intergenerational trauma that causes mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, is by releasing layers of this cellular memory in the body.
While there are tips and tools that many behavioral experts recommend, one tool that many people find particularly effective is SOS Method. This method is designed to clear intergenerational trauma from the body and build self-confidence, self-esteem, and courage to achieve new levels of success. It addresses the root cause of the cycles from past trauma and rewires the mind.
The science behind the SOS Method lies in epigenetics, which studies the effects of our environment and life experiences on our gene expression. It essentially negates the belief that our genes are programmed permanently during birth. Scientific studies have now proven that changes to your DNA get transmitted from one generation to the next. Similarly, the traumatic experiences of our ancestors also get passed down to us.
Pioneered by Marlise Karlin, SOS Method was derived from coherence between renowned 2000-year-old holistic practices and groundbreaking neuroscience, then proven by over two decades of qualitative data from field research on countless thousands in diverse populations globally.
SOS Method has demonstrated behavioral change in as little as 24 hours, specifically to behavior that was the result of trauma. Whether generational or recent, trauma is imprinted on our cells and triggers hormonal changes. Therefore, to generate such rapid results SOS Method must be affecting change on the cellular level.
After years of insomnia, bouts of depression, and cyclical patterns of bad relationships, discovering that it’s possible to replace negative mindsets and have a healthier and more prosperous life has a been life-altering experience many thought impossible to gain.
If you’re ready to experience the long-lasting change of getting to the core of the problem – in your cellular memory. So, you don’t have to keep repeating cycles from the past. Begin ORIGINjourney to significantly change the blueprint of your future; heal the past, increase mind intelligence & get better control of your emotions.