Trauma & Genetic Psychiatry

Defining the Trauma

Studies show that exposure to childhood adversity heightens the risk of mental health impairment, social dysfunction, and physical ailments which can persist into adulthood. Experts have observed a need to make a distinction  between a childhood isolated traumatic episode and ongoing childhood adverse life conditions.


Trauma and Genetics Implications

Biological mutations caused by adverse psychological events have been observed from molecular psychiatric stand point. Many specialists are taking an increased interest in researching the fields of genetic psychiatry and behavioral psychiatry to better understand the neurobiological consequences of trauma and its impact in the development of the child.

Epigenetics Implications

From the field of epigenetics, it has been shown that severe trauma can induce functional modifications of the deoxyribonucleic acid sequence, i.e. DNA, which is evident in the dysregulation of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis. This can manifest as cortisol hypersecretion (relative to depression) or cortisol hyposecretion (relative to PTSD and stress-related disorders).


The Impact of Trauma in Time & Non-Communicable Diseases

HPA Axis dysregulation offers increased predispositions to

psychiatric vulnerability which can develop into various

disorders such as those recognized in the Diagnostic and

Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V) and the

International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

These disorders range from anxiety and mood

disorder, substance abuse, depression, eating or sleeping

disorder, to attention or dissociate personality disorder,

suicidal ideation or post-traumatic stress disorder.

These psychological disorders can intersect with physical

diseases, commonly referred to as non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Intergenerational Transmission

Researchers are debating and pursuing investigations to better determine intergenerational transmission of the trauma through neurobiological mutations induced by environmental and interpersonal severe adverse experiences. 

INNTRA intends to support and encourage scientific study initiatives fostering the capacity to understand psychiatric, behavioral and biological vulnerabilities acquired through intergenerational transmission.


This also implies the necessity to support studies to understand the neurobiological effects of positive reinforcement through treatment on neuronal plasticity and epigenome reprogramming.

-Afifi, T. O., Mather, A., Boman, J., Fleisher, W., Enns, M. W., Macmillan, H., & Sareen, J. (2011). Childhood adversity and personality disorders: Results from a nationally representative population-based study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45(6), 814-822. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.11.008

-Ehlert, U. (2013). Enduring psychobiological effects of childhood adversity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1850-1857. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.06.007

-Giacobino, A. (2008). Peut-on se libérer de ses gènes? L'épigénétique. Stock.

-Greer. E.L. et al. (2011). Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature. 479(7373):365-71

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