New studies indicate that stress and trauma can actually change or alter a person’s DNA and genetic makeup. This is referred to as “epigenetic change”. The changed or “variated” gene is then handed down, genetically, from parents to their children. Have you ever wondered why violence is passed down from generation to generation? It could have less to do with nurture and more to do with nature.

The FKBP5 gene plays a role in your body’s stress responding system a.k.a. the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). In PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) patients, their HPA axis appears over active. In some of these people, their FKBP5 gene has significant variations. These variations can change how the body reacts to stress. People with the variations are more likely to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, bi polar disorder and others.

Since research shows that the variated genes are passed down to offspring, then that would mean that most of the African American population has these variated FKBP5 genes, due to slavery. It was one of the biggest atrocities in American history. Can you image the trauma these people suffered through? It went on for hundreds of years and didn’t stop with the abolishment of slavery. African Americans and other races have been subjected to heinous trauma for many generations. With this new information, hopefully we can start to explain some of the problems that still plague African American communities today.

The Black Awareness Foundation likes to offer solutions. It seems pretty hard to combat something like genetics. But, what we can do is stay on top of mental health. In a previous piece, we discussed mental health in African American communities. It’s very important to seek help when you need it or even think you might need it. Don’t underestimate the power of a disorder like PTSD or depression. With the implementation of Obama Care, it’s easier now, more than ever, to get health care. Don’t ignore the signs or think you can take care of it yourself. It’s a serious issue and should be treated as such.

-Shaniya Jackson, Guest blogger
Copyright 2017

Slavery Woman

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