Is PTSD Hereditary?

Is PTSD Hereditary?

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In life, you may have heard people discuss events that have given them their PTSD, but you might be wondering how common this disorder is, and where it is most likely to come from.

Post traumatic stress disorder is not that rare and it can happen to everyone, but one question which has come up more and more often is if PTSD is genetic. 

It is likely that most of us will experience trauma in our lives, and this has a good chance of leading to PTSD, and while our own trauma can cause PTSD, there is also a good chance that our genetics can lead to PTSD as well! 

There has now been extensive research into whether certain people are more likely to be affected by PTSD than others based on their genetics.

There was a Harvard report that showed that you can explain around 30% of PTSD cases by looking at genetics.

The evidence was gathered when looking at identical twins who had a smaller hippocampus and that they were more likely to develop PTSD following traumatic events. 

The symptoms can also overlap with other conditions like general anxiety disorders and panic.

Genetics also play a role in making fear memories too and how these can lead to PTSD as well. 

There still needs to be more research done on how your genetics and any hereditary conditions can play a role in getting PTSD, and there are signs that it can be more closely linked to other issues like trauma from the childhood, mental illness and a lack of social support. 

So, if you want to learn more about PTSD, this guide will give you more information on this condition, and what should be considered if you think you might be suffering from it!

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is described as a mental health condition that is triggered after facing traumatic events.

This can occur when someone has seen or experienced something tragic, and a lot of the most common symptoms are related to anxiety and nightmares, as well as uncontrollable thoughts and related flashbacks. 

You will find that most people who face trauma will struggle, at least temporarily, with coping with the trauma and adjusting their life, however, if the proper care is administered by themselves and others, they will be able to heal over time. 

However, for some people, the symptoms can get worse over time and can last for years.

This can often interfere with the ability to function day to day, and this is what is most commonly described as PTSD.

In this section we will go over the most common symptoms and the risk factors.

Symptoms Of PTSD

You will find that most symptoms of PTSD will start about within a month of the traumatic event which causes the disorder.

However, this is not guaranteed and it can sometimes take years for the feelings to resurface. 

The symptoms have been known to cause noticeable issues when it comes to work, or in social situations, and in building relationships.

As mentioned in the previous section, these symptoms can be very destructive to your daily routine. 

Is PTSD Hereditary?

The symptoms are often grouped into categories, with the 4 most common being; changes in your physical and emotional reactions, changes in thinking and mood, avoidance, and intrusive memories. 

You do not need to have all of these to have PTSD, however, the more you have, the more likely it is you have PTSD.

There is a wide variety of symptoms that can fit inside these categories. 

One of the most common is feeling hopeless about the future, you could also be avoiding any people, activities, or places that could be linked to the event.

It is also common to relive the traumatic event often, or have upsetting nightmares that are related to the event. 

A lot of people with PTSD are known to have memory problems.

There is also a chance that you could be having difficulty in maintaining your relationships, whether this is a feeling of being more emotionally numb, or just feeling more detached from your friends and family. 

You could also get startled or frightened more easily, and this can lead to always feeling like you have to be on guard for danger.

This is often why people with PTSD could have trouble sleeping, but it can also lead to leaning into self-destructive behavior, whether this is addiction, or something else.

Risk Factors

There are certain risk factors that should be considered that will increase the risk of developing PTSD.

Some of the most common include; being of a low socioeconomic status, or having a higher severity of trauma.

If you have a lack of social support, or have faced abuse in your childhood you are more at risk of developing PTSD. 

Also, if you are part of a minority racial group, or have a psychiatric history, then these can all increase the likelihood of developing PTSD, even if they might not be the triggering factor.

Generational Trauma

Something that is not passed through your genetics, but is passed down through your family and lineage is generational trauma.

The traumatic experiences of our parents and our grandparents can often be passed down to us, and this can very easily be linked to developing PTSD. 

This can be seen in research that showed that while Holocaust survivors were of course suffering from PTSD, even the children of these survivors, who never directly experienced the Holocaust, were also more likely to be susceptible to PTSD too!


Hopefully this guide has given you all the information you need when it comes to working out whether your PTSD is hereditary or if it has been triggered by other trauma. 

It is more unlikely for PTSD to be hereditary, however, hereditary factors can be considered a risk factor that could have increased your chances of developing PTSD.

The best thing you can do if you align with the symptoms described is to seek the help of a medical professional to help you work through your trauma.

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