Most of us have heard the cliches regarding positive thinking, but did you know that it is actually more than just a cliche? On the contrary, the science behind how our emotions impact our reality is growing, and what it has to say could change the world.
When we are born into the world, we join humanity with a unique blueprint that determines who we are as a person: our DNA. Everything about us from our hair color, to our eye color and how healthy we will be throughout our lives is found in our DNA. Of course, throughout our lives, our DNA can change, which also impacts our physical existence.
So while many believe that our DNA is the sole determination factor of everything that will happen to our bodies in our life, scientists have actually discovered that genetic determinism is incorrect. Conversely, scientists believe that we have quite an impact on our DNA.
For example, a number of studies have been conducted regarding human emotions and DNA. One, in particular, looked at the DNA of depressed women. In the study, over 11,500 women were investigated to find genes that could contribute to the risk of depression. Instead, what they found was that women who suffered from stress-related depression due to trauma had more mitochondrial DNA than others.
Mitochondria is considered to be the ‘powerhouse organelles’ that provide the energy necessary for the rest of the cell.
“We were surprised at the observation that there was a difference in mitochondrial DNA. So surprised it took us a long time to convince ourselves it was real, and not an artifact,” said geneticist and one of the lead researchers, Jonathan Flint, in a press release.
Researchers also discovered that women with stress-related depression had shorter telomeres than healthy women. Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that usually grow shorter as we age. Due to this, scientists have begun to wonder if trauma and stress could impact telomeres.
To test this theory, scientists studied mice for four weeks. The mice were placed in stressful situations so that researchers could study their DNA. What they found was published in Current Biology, which showed that the mice with higher levels of stress also had shorter telomeres.
However, there was good news: scientists also found that these effects of stress could be reversed. While the science behind this is still in the works, the team hopes that they could be able to point out biomarkers for stress and the physical consequences of stress. In turn, we could one day find a way to pinpoint whether or not a person has recovered from the trauma.