In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, I dive into an intriguing discussion about trauma with my guest, Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. We touch on what her latest research is uncovering about the role epigenetics plays in trauma and how to identify signs of trauma in your own life.
“Trauma affects everybody,” Rachel says. “Having a traumatic event will definitely change you in some way in terms of how you view the world.”
Rachel is a professor and vice-chair of Psychiatry and professor of Neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Her work focuses on the fields of psychology, trauma, and epigenetic research. She has authored more than 300 high-cited journal articles and book chapters and developed fascinating insights about risk and resilience. Her research on cortisol and brain function has revolutionized the understanding and treatment of PTSD worldwide.
With her in-depth knowledge of PTSD and epigenetics, Rachel walks us through how our parents’ traumas can be passed down through the generations and how those triggers that you’re working on today may not have originated in your lifetime.
“It’s not just that you carry the genes of your parents,” Rachel says. “You carry their history. You carry a lot of the sum total of their experiences.”
We also discuss:
- The often misunderstood role that cortisol plays in the stress response and how this “stress-hormone” may be better identified as an anti-stress hormone.
- How previously banned drugs like MDMA, DMT, and psilocybin may hold therapeutic potential for people working through traumas, and the road ahead for research into these drugs.
- The importance of finding the right practitioner to work with you on traumas that you may experience or have emerge in your life.
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Follow Along with the Transcript
- Does trauma get defined based on the actual experience like combat, or violence, or something like that, or is it in the eye of the beholder? And this, right off the bat, is one of the big debates. – 1:59
- What clinically PTSD is and why are some people getting it and some people not when they’re right next to each other? – 3:57
- With PTSD, that you tend to see the world, not for what it is, but filter through the lens of really negative experiences so that you really can’t give new experiences a chance. – 11:49
- People who have been traumatized need to forgive themselves, most of all. – 12:50
- Trauma survivors tend to think of themselves as victimized but they’re actually survivors. – 16:10
- Is intergenerational trauma something that you believe comes because the parents were raised by people who were traumatized so the trauma behaviors get passed down sort of subconsciously, or do you think it’s even a genetic. – 21:23
- The mother’s lineage and father’s lineage are both important in different ways. – 25:25
- Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal gland under stress, it’s also a hormone that is kept very, very busy throughout the day. – 30:36
- I started supplementing cortisol, it was amazing. My resilience went up, my resilience to infection went up, my sleep quality improved, my brain got better. – 37:35
- Before you want to improve things, try to really figure out also, what purpose is being served by having things the way they are and you need to be really thoughtful about it. If you’re having even a symptom like not being able to sleep, wonder why you can’t sleep. – 42:02
- Compounds that people are using for PTSD. – 44:20
- What would you recommend are the first steps for someone who says, “All right, I’m going to step up and work on my trauma”? – 54:21
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