What is a generational trauma?

Generational trauma refers to the transmission of the effects of traumatic experiences from one generation to the next, through both direct and indirect means.

This can include trauma caused by historical events such as war, genocide, or enslavement, as well as more personal forms of trauma such as child abuse or neglect.

The symptoms and effects of a generational trauma can vary depending on the individual and the specific traumatic experiences they or their ancestors have gone through. Some common symptoms include: mental health issues, substance abuse, and difficulty forming healthy relationships.

Others are:

  • Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Physical health issues such as chronic pain, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Difficulty forming healthy relationships
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Difficulty with attachment and bonding
  • Difficulty with self-esteem and identity
  • Difficulty with making decisions
  • Difficulty with expressing emotions
  • Difficulty with vulnerability
  • Difficulty with intimacy
  • Difficulty with resilience

It’s worth noting that not everyone who experiences or inherits generational trauma will manifest all or even any of these symptoms, and some may manifest other symptoms not listed here.

It can also be passed down through cultural, social, and familial dynamics, leading to a cycle of trauma in a community or family.