Traumatic Stress Affects DNA But Psychotherapy Heals It

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated April 25, 2021

It’s long been known that traumatic stress isn’t good for us. Traumatic stress has been linked to an increased risk in developing numerous illness, such as cancer, as well as mental health problems, such as anxiety disorder and its symptoms.

Researchers, who recently had their study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found this link at the molecular level. They found that traumatic stress may induce DNA breakage, which is one of the reasons long-term unresolved stress can increase the risk of disease. This is the bad news.

The good news, however, is that the researchers also found that psychotherapy may heal this damage. So while traumatic stress can harm the body, the harm is reversible by reducing stress and addressing the behavioral issues that resulted from the trauma.

Their conclusions: “Our results show – for the first time in vivo – an association between traumatic stress and DNA breakage; they also demonstrate changes at the molecular level, i.e., the integrity of DNA, after psychotherapeutic interventions.”

Select the link to read the "Effects of Psychotherapy on DNA Strand Break Accumulation Originating from Traumatic Stress" research.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Research page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Traumatic Stress Affects DNA But Psychotherapy Heals It.

References

Morath, J., et al. "Effects of Psychotherapy on DNA Strand Break Accumulation Originating from Traumatic Stress." Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Aug 2014, https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/362739