Table of Contents
Is Resilience Genetic?
Date of Content: September 14, 2023
Written by: Jess Gayo
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD
What is Resilience?
Despite the many challenges that life presents to each individual, people are determined to still live their lives to the fullest. After going through trying times, some people can go on as if nothing bad ever happened while others have a harder time coping with the stress and anxiety that various issues may have caused them. Either way, how a person deals with trauma or stressful events is always valid.
So what helps humans deal with the aftermath of traumatic events or stressful times? While not an entirely new concept to most, resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, or systems to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity, challenges, or significant life stressors. It is a dynamic and complex idea that includes a variety of psychological, social, and environmental aspects that affect a person’s capacity to recover from challenging situations.
It is possible to build and improve resilience throughout time; genetics are only one factor. Resilience can be improved by life experiences, especially overcoming obstacles in the past. It is not a quality that only some people possess but is instead a skill that can be developed in both individuals and groups.
Is Resilience Hereditary?
Despite it being a cognitive or personality trait rather than something more specific and tangible such as eye color or hair type, resilience can be genetic. Genetic resilience refers to an individual’s ability to withstand or recover from adverse environmental factors, diseases, or stressors due to specific genetic traits or variations in their DNA.
Genetic diversity is one of the most important components of genetic resiliency. Some people will possess features that allow them to better adapt to changing conditions or recover from health concerns because of the large variety of genetic variants present within a community. This diversity improves the possibility that some people will have the requisite genetic predispositions to handle a variety of problems, serving as a sort of genetic insurance policy.
Furthermore, there are numerous ways that genetic resilience can appear. For instance, some individuals may have genetic variants that lessen their risk of contracting specific illnesses, such as those connected to infection or inflammation. Others could be born with genes that improve their ability to digest and detoxify poisonous substances, lowering their vulnerability to environmental toxins. An individual’s capacity to handle stress and adversity may also be influenced by hereditary factors associated with psychological resilience.
Genetics vs. Lifestyle: What Influences Resilience?
In many areas, including genetics, psychology, education, healthcare, and disaster preparedness, an understanding of resilience is crucial. It can direct interventions and methods to aid people and communities in navigating and overcoming hardship, ultimately fostering well-being and a higher standard of living.
A person’s capacity to tolerate and adapt to adversity, stress, or difficult life conditions has been linked to certain changes in that person’s DNA. These variations are known as genetic markers of resilience. Despite being a complicated attribute that is influenced by both hereditary and environmental variables, researchers have found a number of genetic markers and pathways that may contribute to a person’s potential for resilience.
Positive affect is significantly associated with the single nucleotide polymorphism rs322931 (LINC01221 gene), and this association has been replicated in a different cohort. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the minor allele of rs322931 is associated with increased nucleus accumbens responsiveness to positive emotional stimuli, increased fear inhibition, and expression of the microRNAs miR-181a and miR-181b in the human brain and blood.
According to earlier investigations, the miR-181 may play a role in reward neurocircuitry, The rs322931 genetic variant may help to better understand the genetic basis of positive affect with improved resilience and how the nucleus accumbens and miR-181 may control positive emotionality.
Other Potentially Relevant Genetic Factors for Resilience
BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor)
A protein called BDNF encourages the development and upkeep of neurons in the brain. A greater potential for resilience has been associated with certain variations in the BDNF gene. Greater resistance to stress-related illnesses and better mood control are both linked to higher levels of BDNF.
FKBP5 (FK506 Binding Protein 5)
This gene controls how the body responds to stress. Affected stress reactivity and resilience have been linked to specific genetic variations of the FKBP5 protein. Following distressing events, people with particular FKBP5 polymorphisms may be less prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
An enzyme called COMT is involved in the decomposition of neurotransmitters including dopamine and norepinephrine. Different levels of stress tolerance and emotional control have been linked to genetic polymorphisms in the COMT gene. Some variations may offer benefits for managing stress.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is essential for controlling mood, is regulated by this gene. Resilience has been linked to specific 5-HTTLPR variations, especially when it comes to unfavorable childhood events. Better emotional stability could be a result of these variations.
A receptor that interacts with stress hormones like cortisol is encoded by the gene NR3C1. The susceptibility of an individual to stress and their capacity to control their stress response can be impacted by epigenetic modifications in this gene. Certain variations have been related to increased resiliency to stresses.
CRHR1 (Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptor 1)
The body’s stress response is controlled by CRHR1. Particular CRHR1 genetic variations have been linked to resistance to certain illnesses brought on by stress, like depression and anxiety.
The field of study into the genetic indicators of resilience is still developing. The biological underpinnings of resilience are revealed by these genetic markers, but they may not infallibly predict a person’s capacity to overcome hardship.
Genetics, however, only makes up a small part of the resilience jigsaw. Individual coping mechanisms, social support, life events, and the environment all have a big impact on someone’s resilience. Additionally, gene-environment interactions, which mediate how genes and the environment interact, are very important in determining resilience.
Non-Genetic or Environmental Factors
It’s crucial to understand that genetics alone does not determine genetic resilience. The ability of a person to adapt and overcome obstacles is also greatly influenced by environmental circumstances, lifestyle decisions, and social support. Genetics only serves as a starting point for resilience; it does not, however, ensure immunity to life stressors.
Early Life Experiences
Resilience can be significantly impacted by early experiences and the standard of caring. Positive experiences, including feeling safe and secure with caregivers, can support emotional control and the growth of coping mechanisms. Negative childhood experiences, such as neglect or trauma, on the other hand, may reduce resilience and increase susceptibility to diseases linked to stress.
Access to Education and Financial Stability
People can be empowered to acquire problem-solving abilities, increase their adaptability, and improve their socioeconomic situation with education and access to resources. People’s daily stresses can be lessened by having access to basic essentials like food, shelter, and healthcare as well as having financial security. Economic stability reduces some of the external influences that might cause stress and adversity, which helps people feel secure and resilient.
One of the most important non-genetic aspects of resilience is having a solid and supportive social support system made up of friends, family, and community members. Social support offers emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of community, all of which help a person deal with stress and misfortune. Positive role models and mentors can also serve as sources of inspiration and guidance for people, especially during trying times. These connections can offer priceless direction, inspiration, and guidance.
Community and Cultural Factors
An individual’s resilience can be impacted by cultural values, customs, and social expectations. Having a strong sense of cultural identity and community can be a source of courage and support when things get tough.
Mental Health Coping Skills and Mental Health Support
One non-genetic component of resilience is the capacity to control one’s emotions, cope with stress, and use appropriate coping mechanisms. Over time, one can build and refine abilities like problem-solving, emotional control, and mindfulness, which will improve the capacity to deal with difficulties. Support for mental health is crucial for people to be able to manage their own problems. A person’s resilience can be greatly improved by having access to counseling and possible medication.
Trauma and Adversity
In a paradoxical way, going through and recovering from trauma or hardship can sometimes increase resilience. While extreme adversity can be harmful, moderate stress and difficulty can foster resilience by teaching people important coping and problem-solving skills.
It’s critical to understand that resilience is a dynamic process that can be developed and cultivated over the course of a person’s life rather than being a set attribute. These non-genetic elements interact with a person’s genetic predispositions to determine their overall resilience; they do not exist in isolation.
Interventions aimed at enhancing environmental characteristics, such as granting access to mental health services, encouraging supportive communities, and establishing educational and economic initiatives, are frequently used in efforts to increase resilience.
Why is Resilience Important?
For many compelling reasons, resilience is crucial for people, communities, and societies. It is essential for improving well-being, overcoming adversity, and supporting individual and group growth. Individuals who are resilient are better able to face difficulties head-on and recover from failures, keeping them from becoming overpowering or incapacitating.
Positive mental health is also closely correlated with this attribute. People who are resilient are better able to cope with stress, worry, and sadness. They can change how they think and feel, which encourages emotional health and lowers the chance of mental health problems.
Relationships are healthier when people are resilient. People who are resilient can effectively communicate, handle conflict, and support others emotionally. In turn, this encourages better interpersonal dynamics and greater social ties. Resilience is important for each individual, but it also affects communities and the entire society.
Communities that are more resilient are better able to resist and recover from catastrophes, economic downturns, and other group obstacles. Strengthening social networks, infrastructure, and disaster readiness are all part of building community resilience. Individuals can live longer, more fulfilling lives, and societies can become more adaptive and better equipped to face the difficulties of the modern world through cultivating resilience. It is a skill that can grow stronger with practice, helping both the person and the larger community.
Ways to Improve Resilience
Enhancing resilience is a worthwhile undertaking that can improve a person’s capacity to overcome challenges and keep their mental and emotional well-being. Resilience is a dynamic skill that may be learned and improved through time.
Build a Strong Support Network
Develop and preserve solid bonds with your loved ones, friends, and other helpful people. A strong support system offers opportunities to share experiences and coping mechanisms through trying times as well as emotional support and a sense of belonging.
Enhance Emotional Regulation
Use strategies for controlling your emotions, such as mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing. You may manage your intense emotions and lessen the effects of stressors by using these techniques.
Seek Professional Help
Do not be afraid to ask a therapist or counselor for assistance if you are having trouble coping with hardship or are having problems with your mental health. Professional assistance can offer helpful tools and techniques for enhancing resilience.
Maintain Physical Health
The physical well-being that results from regular exercise, a healthy diet, and enough sleep improves mental resilience. In order to effectively manage stress and foster overall resilience, physical health is essential.
Cultivate Optimism and Flexibility
By concentrating on the components of a situation that you can control and confronting negative thought patterns, you can cultivate a positive view. By enhancing drive and lowering feelings of hopelessness, optimism might enhance resilience. Accept change and uncertainty as chances for development. Flexibility makes it easier to adjust to changing conditions and lowers resistance to change, both of which can increase resilience.
Practice Self-Compassion and Mindfulness
Be gentle to yourself, especially when things are difficult. The act of being compassionate toward oneself is treating oneself with the same empathy and understanding that one would extend to a friend who is struggling. Being in the moment without passing judgment is a component of mindfulness. Regular mindfulness practice can improve emotional control, lower stress levels, and boost resilience in general.
Adapt Healthy Coping Strategies and Meaningful Activities
Choose healthy coping strategies and use them, such as keeping a journal, creating art, or partaking in enjoyable activities. These pursuits can work as stress-relieving activities and foster emotional toughness. Develop a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life by pursuing endeavors that are consistent with your ideals. You can even increase your motivation and resiliency by engaging in meaningful activities.
Help Build Resilience in Children
If you are a parent or other adult providing care for children, model for them how to be resilient by giving them the opportunity to solve problems, make decisions, and grow from their mistakes. Encourage a growth mentality and open communication.
Keep in mind that developing resilience is a continuous process and that obstacles will inevitably arise. Be kind to yourself as you continue to practice these skills. You may strengthen your resilience and deal with problems in life more skillfully with time and effort.
LifeDNA’s Wellness Report
Resilience is not just a human trait; it is also exhibited by various species like animals and plants. Nevertheless, resilience in humans is still continuously being studied to know more about how to adapt this trait, whether it is all about nurture (their environment) or nature (hereditary).
LifeDNA’s Personality and Cognition Report gives insight into several traits that can help you understand and develop your features, such as Resilience. LifeDNA’s Personality and Cognition report covers an analysis of resilience and 35 other personal and cognition-related traits. Get yours here.
- The ability to tolerate, adapt to, and recover from adversity, obstacles, or substantial life pressures is referred to as resilience.
- A person’s ability to bounce back from difficult circumstances is influenced by a range of psychological, social, and environmental factors that make up the dynamic and complex concept of resilience.
- Genetic resilience is the term used to describe a person’s capacity to tolerate or recover from harmful environmental elements, illnesses, or stressors as a result of particular genetic features or DNA variants.
- Genetic resilience is not solely determined by genes. Environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and social support all have a significant impact on a person’s capacity to adapt and overcome challenges.
- Being more resilient is crucial for enhancing well-being, overcoming hardship, and promoting progress on both an individual and collective level.
*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.
Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.