New Research on Stress, Anxiety, DNA, and the Likelihood of Getting Sick

In this blog, we want to share with you some research about stress. This research should cause us all to be more empathetic to the people around us.

There is a researcher at Yale called Joan Kauffman. What she did is she compared the DNA of children who had had no major trauma in their childhoods vs. children who had major trauma, whether that be some sort of abusive home or something like that.

What she found is that, at the DNA level, the children who had major stress constantly emitted hormones that were similar to their “fight or flight” hormones. Basically, That they had constant stress and, moreover, they found out that these stress receptors and what happens doesn’t go away. That is, these people who have traumatic childhoods don’t have their DNA modified and improved over time to where they don’t have this constant source of stress.

Upset problem child with head in hands sitting on staircase concept for bullying, depression stress or frustration
Upset problem child with head in hands sitting on staircase concept for bullying, depression stress or frustration

You might be thinking, “That is really sad for these children who had major sources of trauma.” But, there was another doctor in San Diego (Vincent Felitti) and he was looking at the correlation between childhood trauma and illness and he interviewed seventeen thousand patients. These are relatively normal patients. These are people who were the average age of 55 years old and they have college educations about three quarters of the time.

What he found is that about 65 percent of these people interviewed had some major traumatic event as a child, whether that be some sort of abuse or maybe bullying or a really dramatic divorce, and when you combine the two findings that these research teams, there’s a whole new body of knowledge out there about stress and its long-term impacts from childhood.

Our point is this: if 65 percent of people are walking around with increased stress levels, because of some event in their childhood, that’s a reason we should all be more empathetic because that means that over half the people in America are most likely walking around with these increased stress levels. It’s not something that’s their own fault. It’s something that happened to them when they were a kid.

Next time you’re seeing one of those people be stressed out and you’re thinking, “Man, they should just meditate and be zen,” instead think about this research that shows that maybe that wasn’t under their control. Maybe it was something that happened in their childhood that they never even had any control over, but it’s really impacting them through their adult life.

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