How Inherited Trauma Affects Women

Posted by  Soribel Martínez

Inherited trauma, sometimes called generational trauma, is finally being talked about with more prominence than ever. Simply, it’s the study-backed suggestion that trauma can be passed on from one generation to the next. 

At first, that might seem hard to comprehend. How could your mother’s traumatic experience, for example, impact you? 

As it turns out, trauma can leave more of a mark on someone’s genes than most people realize. Many people use the Holocaust as an example to make things easier to understand. Generational trauma still occurs in Jewish families today from something that happened decades ago. 

Inherited trauma, in general, can be hard to deal with because you may not know where your symptoms started. As a woman, it can be even more difficult to handle the effects of trauma that “isn’t yours”. 

With that, let’s take a closer look at how inherited trauma affects women, and what you can do if you think you’re experiencing it. 

The Problem With Women and PTSD

Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to experience PTSD than men. Additionally, their symptoms last longer. That plays into the idea of inherited trauma and why it might impact women in different, stronger ways. 

Think about everything women have had to go through over the years. Your mother or grandmother may have been involved in protests for women’s rights. Earlier generations may have fought for the right to vote. 

Maybe there has been domestic abuse in your family, even if you weren’t even born yet. All of those things, both historical and personal, can shape the way women in your family cope with life. It can also shape their attitudes and what they pass on. 

As a result, it shapes you. 

How Does Inherited Trauma Show Up?

The effects of inherited trauma show up somewhat similar to “traditional” PTSD symptoms. You might be hypervigilant about things. Or you might have a strong sense of mistrust. It’s also not uncommon for people with inherited trauma to experience anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and insomnia. 

Many people with PTSD struggle with experiencing flashbacks. They can also try to avoid “triggers” or things that remind them of their trauma. That isn’t necessarily a healthy coping mechanism, but it’s a big difference between traditional PTSD and inherited trauma. 

When trauma gets passed through generations, you can’t avoid what you don’t recognize. The only flashbacks you might experience are different moments from your childhood or how you were raised. 

It’s not uncommon for generational trauma to be a central theme for families without the members even realizing it. Think about how your mother was as you grew up. Did she have a hard time discussing her feelings? Did you view her as incredibly strong, only because she thought talking about how she felt was a sign of weakness? 

Now, think about some of your own tendencies and how they compare.  

How to Treat Inherited Trauma

Like any other type of trauma, the best way to treat/manage it is to get to the bottom of it. If you’re experiencing any of the signs listed above or you want to learn more about inherited trauma, feel free to contact me. 

The most important thing to understand is that you’re not alone. While more research needs to be done on inherited trauma, it’s clear that there can be a direct connection between generations. That’s especially true for women. 

Treating the effects of inherited trauma can help you to find freedom in your life so you feel like you’re finally in control. You’re not alone in the things you’ve experienced or the way you feel, and you can move forward in your life without hanging on to the trauma of previous generations. 

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