Using Technology to Advance Behavioral Health
Technology has become prevalent in our world, and there are so many benefits we can derive from it. In many areas of the medical field, technology is changing lives every day. It could be through using an MRI machine to diagnosis a problem, or conducting surgery via robotic instruments for minimal invasiveness. One area in which we haven’t been maximizing the benefits of technology is behavioral health. We have a great many technological tools at our disposal and Defining Wellness Centers has recognized their power to aid in healing.
To understand how technology can aid in healing trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, and more, we first need to understand epigenetics. Defined as the study of how gene expression is changed by environmental factors, epigenetics is the true meeting of nature vs. nurture. Science has taught us that trauma, among other health issues, can actually be imprinted on genes and passed down genetically to future generations.
So, what does this mean? How does this impact you as an individual? The answer is that it does so in a variety of ways. Our DNA is set in stone, however epigenetic signatures on our genes, or your gene expression, can be changed. Think of epigenetics like tags that attach to your DNA markers – if a biological grandparent or your parent(s) experienced extreme trauma, or had an addiction to cigarettes, you could have a tag attached to your genes that makes it more likely for you to have a more heightened stress response, or perhaps have a higher likelihood of developing lung cancer even if you’ve never smoked yourself. Your DNA is not changed, but these genetic expressions can impact you.
A good example of epigenetics at play can be found in a small study of family members of Holocaust survivors. Conducted in 2015, the study found that children of survivors had epigenetic changes to a gene that was linked to their levels of cortisol, which is a hormone involved in stress responses. This study was a building block for other studies and reinforces findings from epigenetic studies conducted with mice, in which responses of offspring were impacted based on what their parents experienced.
There is good news in all of this. Not only are we learning more about how our bodies work, but we’re also learning that these epigenetic tags can be removed from our genetic makeup. Through a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions, epigenetic traumas can actually be reversed. EMDR is one therapy that has shown success in a study focusing on PTSD treatment for veterans. While other forms of therapy were equally effective, only EMDR, an experiential treatment, showed a significant difference in epigenetic effect.
Rewiring to Recovery
Our DNA has been described as a musical instrument; the way an instrument is played, or expressed, makes us who we are. Some keys or chords aren’t played at all, while others are constantly playing. Some may create lovely background noise, while other chords could be harsh and abrasive. The way that your genes are expressed is what makes up who you are, or “the music of you.” Over time, you can change your song, and epigenetics is the driving factor. Through changing your environment and treating epigenetic factors, you can heal and remove the tags that have attached themselves to your DNA.
In addition to therapy, technology has shown promising results in epigenetic reversals. Neurofeedback, for example, helps you to rewire your brain for better balance and emotional regulation. It can also aid in developing healthier sleeping patterns, managing responses to stress and anxiety, and creating overall balance. PEMF-based technologies and red light laser therapy are two modalities that can decrease inflammation and heal your body, as well as to increase energy and promote cell growth.
Through changing your environment and treating epigenetic factors, you can heal and remove the tags that have attached themselves to your DNA.
Creating Healthy Outcomes
Trauma is at the root of behavioral health diagnoses and our team works to identify and address your trauma. Whether you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, or other behavioral health diagnoses, trauma has contributed to and developed from your diagnosis. Epigenetic factors, we now know, can influence and impact your response to trauma, and our team considers this in working with you so as to provide the best treatment possible.
Epigenetics is only a piece to the puzzle for healing your trauma. There are still many things that need to be addressed individually with each person for healthy outcomes, but by being aware of cutting-edge genetic outcomes, our team is able to treat you wholly. As research continues to be conducted and scientific findings published, Defining Wellness Centers stays at the forefront of progressive treatment. Your yesterday doesn’t have to dictate your tomorrow.