The Lingering Shadow: How Trauma Passed Down Through Generations Affects Your Mental Health in 2024

The scars of traumatic experiences can travel far beyond the person who endured them. How to overcome trauma and move forward in 2024 is a question many grapple with, especially when the trauma is a legacy passed down through generations. This unseen inheritance, known as generational trauma, can have a profound impact on our mental health.

What Is Generational Trauma:

Generational trauma refers to the emotional and psychological wounds passed down from one generation to the next within a family or community.  These wounds stem from traumatic experiences such as war, violence, oppression, loss, or displacement.  Even if you didn’t directly experience the trauma yourself, the impact can linger across generations, shaping your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Signs You Might Be Carrying Generational Trauma

The answer to the question on how to overcome trauma and move forward can start by identifying the roots. Generational trauma can manifest in various ways. Here are some signs you might be carrying the weight of the past:

Anxiety and Fear

Unexplained anxiety or a general sense of unease can be a signal you’re subconsciously carrying the worries of your ancestors.

Depression and Hopelessness

The feeling that bad things are inevitable could be linked to past traumas your family has endured.

Difficulty with Relationships

If you struggle with trust or intimacy, it could be due to patterns of unhealthy relationships passed down through your family.


Self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse can be a coping mechanism for unresolved trauma.

Unexplained Physical Symptoms

Headaches, fatigue, and other physical issues can sometimes be rooted in emotional distress.

Breaking Free from the Cycle: How Trauma Affects Your Mental Health

The unseen effects of trauma can travel far beyond the generation that directly experienced it. Generational trauma, the emotional and psychological wounds passed down through families, can have a profound impact on our mental health. Here’s how trauma can manifest in various ways:

Stress Response

Traumatic events can leave a lasting mark on the nervous system. This can make you more sensitive to stress, increasing your vulnerability to anxiety or depression. Even if you don’t know the details of your family’s past trauma, your body might be wired for a heightened stress response.

Negative Thought Patterns

Generational trauma can shape your view of the world. If your family history is filled with hardship and struggle, you might develop a more pessimistic outlook on life. This negativity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, hindering your ability to cope with challenges.

Attachment Styles

Healthy attachments are essential for building secure and trusting relationships. However, unresolved trauma can lead to unhealthy attachment patterns. You might struggle with trust or intimacy, repeating patterns from your family’s past. Knowing how to overcome trauma and move forward in 2024 can both benefit you and your relations with other people.

Coping Mechanisms

We all develop coping mechanisms to deal with difficult emotions. Unfortunately, some coping mechanisms aren’t healthy. If your family members used avoidance or substance abuse to manage their trauma, you might unconsciously adopt these same behaviors, which can ultimately cause more harm than good.

How to Overcome Trauma and Move Forward in 2024

The good news is that you don’t have to be a prisoner of the past. Here are some proven techniques to help you overcome trauma and move forward in 2024:


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and EMDR therapy can be particularly effective in addressing trauma and anxiety.

Mindfulness Practices

Techniques like meditation and deep breathing can help manage stress and anxiety symptoms.


Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process difficult emotions.

Support Groups

Connecting with others who have experienced trauma can be a source of strength and validation.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Exercise, good sleep hygiene, and a balanced diet can all contribute to improved mental health.

A Therapist That Understands

Understanding how generational trauma might be affecting you is a crucial first step towards healing in 2024. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or unhealthy relationship patterns, you don’t have to go through it alone. Here at BetterMe Psychology, we offer culturally-sensitive therapy with a team of multilingual therapists. 

We understand that emotional expression is most comfortable in your native language, and our therapists can provide sessions in English, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish.  We believe in creating a safe and supportive space for you to explore your past, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and build a brighter future. Contact BetterMe Psychology today and take the first step towards overcoming trauma and moving forward.