Recall the video from your Module 1 Case Assignment on how stress affects the brain. Stress not only affects the structure and function of the brain, but its genetic makeup as well. In this module you were introduced to the various effects stress has on each body system, including the reproductive system. New research suggests that experiencing intense psychological trauma may have a genetic impact on a person’s future children. In the following video, Dr. Rachel Yehuda studied the genetic effects in a population of Holocaust survivors and found variations from the norm in both generations for the gene associated with depression and anxiety disorders. The findings imply that children of individuals who experience profound stress in life may be more likely to develop stress or anxiety disorders themselves.
Can Trauma Be Passed to the Next Generation Through DNA? PBS Learning Media. Accessed at https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/e9a3377e-ef0d-4815-8f25-166daa4d3114/can-trauma-be-passed-to-the-next-generation-through-dna/#.WZeOTNGQyM8
Answer the following questions in essay format. For additional details, see the Case Assignment directions below.
1. How does experiencing trauma affect a person’s life?
2. Describe the term epigenetics. How does stress play a role in epigenetics?
3. Describe an event in history that could have caused stress-related changes to the next generation (some examples include the Holocaust, 9-11 terrorist attack, the Dutch famine of 1944). Include the disorders these children experienced (such as anxiety, depression, mental disorders, etc).
4. Why might it be helpful to know how children will be affected by trauma their parents experienced?
5. What kinds of events going on in the world right now could be producing similar effects in future generations?