How Trauma Can Damage the Brain for Generations and Can Be Reversed
The relatively new science of epigenetics is proving that who you are is the culmination of the experiences in your life – and even those of your ancestors – which cause changes in how your genes operate. Modifications occur and genes can switch on or off depending on the environment. In other words, you are born with a certain set of genes, but the events of your life determine which genes get expressed and which genes don’t.
The bad news is that trauma can be inherited through epigenetic changes and a multitude of illnesses, behaviors, and health issues have been linked to epigenetic mechanisms. Related conditions include many cancers, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative and psychological disorders, addictions, and respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, and neurobehavioral illnesses.
But the good news is that science is showing that epigenetic changes can be reversed.
How to Stop the Negative Thought Loop in Your Mind
Rumination is the brain instinctually attempting to solve a problem, make sense of something, change a reality that you aren’t ready to accept or figure out what went wrong. Rumination satisfies your brain temporarily because it gives it something to do about the problem, the unacceptable situation, or the troublesome circumstances. In reality, it’s just spinning its wheels, making you feel worse, and not accomplishing anything useful.
Rumination keeps your brain and body responding as if the event — the insult, the pain, the panic — is happening right then. It brings a past or future emotion into your present and subjects your body to it over and over. It’s been scientifically proven that just thinking about something causes your brain to release neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that allow it to communicate with parts of itself and your nervous system. Neurotransmitters control virtually all of your body’s functions, from hormones to digestion to feeling happy, sad, or stressed. The thoughts that run through your head even change your cells and genes.
Many people slip into rumination when they’re trying to process their emotions or solve a problem. They can get “stuck” in negative patterns of replaying past hurts without moving toward solutions or feelings of resolution. A skill called “self-distancing” allows a person to reflect on difficult circumstances without getting trapped in the emotional spin cycle of rumination. A shift in perspective can beneficially impact the way you think, feel, and behave.
5 Ways Your Phone Could Be Hurting Your Mental Health
With the growing availability and affordability of a variety of smartphones and omnipresent wi-fi, people have access to the entirety of the internet around the clock. All anybody ever has to do is take out their phone. While this technological advancement is amazing and convenient, it comes at a cost.
Research is beginning to show that cell phone addiction is a real thing and that all that time you spend staring at your phone could be damaging your mental health. Science is confirming that cell phone usage correlates with anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, stress, and reduced productivity and attention.
You can’t think your way out of PTSD. Try calming your limbic system instead.
A study published in Nature Neuroscience in February 2018 by researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) in Australia uncovered a new type of bridging neuron and a new pathway in the brain that regulates the return of traumatic memories and fear. This discovery, along with new information about the size and connectivity of amygdala (brain region linked to fear, stress and anxiety) in both adults and children, indicates that traumatic experiences actually rewire and physically change the brain.
It may also offer some explanation for the high nonresponse and dropout rates of CBT, and has potential implications for treating trauma-related disorders, including PTSD, by shifting the primary focus of intervention from engaging the “thinking” part of the brain – through talking therapies – to calming the arousal system in the deeper parts of the brain, specifically, the limbic system. In such cases, the limbic system becomes stuck in “fight or flight” mode.
5 Ways to Work With Your Mind to Stop Negative Thoughts
If you’re lucky, it’s less often than all the time.
You can’t control the random thoughts pop into your head. That’s impossible and leads to its own kind of suffering. However, you do have control over how you respond to those thoughts. Instead of unconsciously going wherever your mind wants to take you — usually down the dark rabbit hole — you can consciously take control of and guide your mind in a different direction by working with your thoughts.
Here are five ways to do that.