Genes, Epigenetics, and Psychosocial Interventions

I have been talking recently to a psychology student and mentioned that I thought in the future there will be a much greater concentration on providing psychosocial interventions for a wide variety of medical diseases including diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders (ex. IBS), and heart disease. Also, in all probability, psychosocial strategies will be used for dementia. The psychology student replied that she thought that the work would be done in neuroscience and specifically work with genes. I then mentioned that much of the work in this area is not done on genes themselves but epigenetics –that is the type of stressors that turn genes on and off, for example: DNA Methylation inhibits the expression of genes. What turns on this methylation includes the usual types of trauma such as child abuse but also a variety of toxins. There is also evidence that traumas anywhere in the lifecycle might turn on the epigenetic processes. We also have been developing a theory as to how traumas can affect gene expression through epigenetic processes in schizophrenia.