cell phone pic of family picnicIt’s highly likely that you’ve been compared to at least one member of your family within your lifetime, especially while you were growing up.

Certain traits or qualities are known to run within a family. You may share similar features or skills to your parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. Your hair and eye color may have been passed on from one or both of your parents. The height, weight, and build you are may run in your family as well. Even some of your personality traits may have been passed on or even learned from watching members of your family while you were growing up.

Unfortunately, both positive and negative traits can be passed on or inherited. Diseases, disorders, and even trauma can also be passed on from a grandparent to a parent and then onto you and your family.

You might be thinking, “How can trauma be passed on if you didn’t experience the trauma yourself?”

Let’s find out what exactly generational trauma is, and, and how it gets passed down.

What Is Generational Trauma?

Generational trauma is usually unresolved trauma that is passed down within generations of a family. This type of trauma is often not actually dealt with by members of the family. Instead, they store it in their bodies and can pass it down unknowingly to other members of their families.

What Causes Generational Trauma?

group of people in white shirtsTrauma can be extremely difficult to deal with when it happens. This often means that most individuals would rather try to forget about it instead of actually dealing with it.

Unfortunately, trauma doesn’t just go away all on its own. It can stay in our bodies if it’s left untreated or unresolved. This is where generational trauma comes in.

The specific cause of generational trauma isn’t totally clear. Generational trauma usually stems from a personal trauma that a person or a group endured. Researchers believe that the trauma may have had a negative impact on a relative’s attitude, behavior, beliefs, and relationship skills that may have then been passed down and affected other family members.

These are just a few of the many causes of generational trauma:

  • Mental abuse
  • Murder
  • Natural disaster
  • Neglect
  • Oppression
  • Physical abuse
  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • Rape
  • Serious injury or illness
  • Sexual abuse
  • Violence
  • War

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Generational Trauma?

Generational trauma shares a lot of the same signs as any other type of trauma. These are some of the most common signs of generational trauma:

  • Anxiety
  • Damaged cultural identity
  • Depression
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Guilt
  • Helplessness
  • Hypervigilance
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of self-esteem or self-confidence
  • Panic attacks
  • Risk of suicidal ideation or attempts
  • Sensitive fight-or-flight response
  • Shame
  • Vulnerability

These are some of the other problems and issues that generational trauma could cause:

  • Anger issues
  • Dysregulated emotions
  • Heart disease
  • Relationship problems
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Substance use and/or abuse

Treatment Options

two men sitting on rainbow flag in grassThe sooner you process the associated emotions, feelings, and thoughts to your trauma, the sooner you will be able to find better ways to manage, cope, and move forward in your life again.

Generational trauma is not something that has to continue. It can stop with you if you take the time and attention to address it. Luckily, you don’t have to go through it alone. Help is available to you and there is no shame in asking for it.

A therapist will be able to help you determine any triggers and find better ways to cope and manage any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing.

Don’t delay in getting the help you need and deserve to live a fulfilling life. Reach out to me today to set up a consultation call to explore how I can help you.

Click here to learn more about trauma therapy services in Delray Beach, FL and Sandy Springs, GA.