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  1. Joelle Maletis · Educator TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators.
  2. PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: It’s Not Just Veterans Sources: National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml HelpGuide: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.htm Anxiety & Depression Association of America: http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd National Institute of Mental Health What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers. PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. Signs & Symptoms PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories: 1. Re-experiencing symptoms Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweatingBad dreamsFrightening thoughts. Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing. 2. Avoidance symptoms Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experienceFeeling emotionally numbFeeling strong guilt, depression, or worryLosing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the pastHaving trouble remembering the dangerous event. Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car. 3. Hyperarousal symptoms Being easily startledFeeling tense or “on edge”Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts. Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating. It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months. Who Is At Risk? PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD. Why do some people get PTSD and other people do not? It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event gets PTSD. In fact, most will not get the disorder. Many factors play a part in whether a person will get PTSD. Some of these are risk factors that make a person more likely to get PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder. Some of these risk and resilience factors are present before the trauma and others become important during and after a traumatic event. Risk factors for PTSD include: Living through dangerous events and traumasHaving a history of mental illnessGetting hurtSeeing people hurt or killedFeeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fearHaving little or no social support after the eventDealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home.Resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include: Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and familyFinding a support group after a traumatic eventFeeling good about one’s own actions in the face of dangerHaving a coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from itBeing able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear. Researchers are studying the importance of various risk and resilience factors. With more study, it may be possible someday to predict who is likely to get PTSD and prevent it. HelpGuide Getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Recovering from PTSD involves helping your nervous system return to its pre-trauma state of balance. As discussed above, the best way to regulate your nervous system is through social engagement—interacting with another human being—be it a loved one, a friend, or a professional therapist. However, as someone with PTSD, you need to first become “unstuck” and move out of the immobilization stress response. While this process is easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor, you don’t need to wait for a medical appointment to start feeling better. There are plenty of things you can do now to help yourself cope with symptoms, reduce anxiety and fear, and take back control of your life. PTSD Self-Help Tips (See the website for more details) 1) Get moving. (spending time in nature) 2) Connect with others. 3) Challenge your sense of helplessness. 4) Take care of yourself. Helping someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) If a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder, it can take a heavy toll on your relationship and family life. It can be hard to understand why your loved one won’t open up to you—why he or she is less affectionate and more volatile. The symptoms of PTSD can also result in job loss, substance abuse, and other stressful problems. Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout. In order to take care of your loved one, you first need to take care of yourself. It’s also helpful to learn all you can about PTSD. The more you know about the symptoms and treatment options, the better equipped you'll be to help your loved one and keep things in perspective. Tips for helping a loved one with PTSD Be patient and understanding. Getting better takes time so be patient with the pace of recovery and offer a sympathetic ear. A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past and move on. Try to anticipate and prepare for PTSD triggers. Common triggers include anniversary dates; people or places associated with the trauma; and certain sights, sounds, or smells. If you are aware of what triggers may cause an upsetting reaction, you’ll be in a better position to offer your support and help your loved one calm down. Don’t take the symptoms of PTSD personally. Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include emotional numbness, anger, and withdrawal. If your loved one seems distant, irritable, or closed off, remember that this may not have anything to do with you or your relationship. Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It is often very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make things worse. Never try to force your loved one to open up. Let the person know, however, that you’re there when and if he or she wants to talk.
  3. Two big problems, one great solution. About Operation Delta Dog An epidemic of veteran suicides Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives in the United States...almost one per hour. These veterans serve their country and then come home to face the even greater challenges of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) that can leave them debilitated, sleepless, and unable to cope. Massachusetts is home to about 400,000 veterans. If Veteran's Administration estimates are correct, that means that about 20 percent of those, or 80,000, of our friends and neighbors are suffering with these invisible disabilities right now. Overflowing animal shelters Each year, more than 50,000 dogs wind up homeless in Massachusetts. Many of these animals are sweet-tempered and trainable, but there’s just nowhere for them go. The sad result? Nearly half of all shelter animals are euthanized. Operation Delta Dog was founded in 2013 as a way to tackle both of these problems at the same time. Working with experienced trainers and positive-reinforcement methods, we rescue homeless dogs from Massachusetts shelters and breed-rescue groups and train them to work as service dogs with local veterans who are suffering with TBI and PTSD. Assistance animals are a practical and successful way to reduce stress, treat depression, and manage the panic attacks associated with TBI and PTSD. Trained dogs, however, are in short supply. Very few service dog organizations focus solely on veterans, and even fewer utilize rescued dogs in their programs. Operation Delta Dog wants to improve those odds. Our trainers find the very best canine candidates, pluck them from shelters, and train them for a new life filled with purpose and affection. Local veterans can participate in training without leaving their jobs or families and find relief from the debilitating symptoms of TBI, PTSD, and other challenges. The dogs get the homes they need, and the veterans get the help they deserve!
  4. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It's growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents. Although research continues, EMDR remains controversial among some health care professionals. At first glance, EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on talk therapy or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a patient's own rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events. What Can You Expect From EMDR? An EMDR treatment session can last up to 90 minutes. Your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it. Gradually, the therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe tapping or musical tones. How Effective Is EMDR? More than 20,000 practitioners have been trained to use EMDR since psychologist Francine Shapiro developed the technique in 1989. While walking through the woods one day, Shapiro happened to notice that her own negative emotions lessened as her eyes darted from side to side. Then, she found the same positive effect in patients. EMDR appears to be a safe therapy, with no negative side effects. Still, despite its increasing use, mental health practitioners debate EMDR's effectiveness. Critics note that most EMDR studies have involved only small numbers of participants. Other researchers, though, have shown the treatment's effectiveness in published reports that consolidated data from several studies. What Do the Guidelines Recommend? Guidelines issued by more than one professional organization have recently boosted the credibility of EMDR. These guidelines define who may benefit from the treatment. For example: The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has noted that EMDR is effective for treating symptoms of acute and chronic PTSD. According to the APA, EMDR may be particularly useful for people who have trouble talking about the traumatic events they've experienced. The APA guidelines note that other research is needed to tell whether improvements from EMDR can be sustained over time. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have jointly issued clinical practice guidelines. These guidelines "strongly recommended" EDMR for the treatment of PTSD in both military and non-military populations. They also note that this approach has been as effective as other psychological treatments in some studies, and less effective in others. How Does EMDR Work? Even the most enthusiastic supporters of EMDR have not agreed on how the therapy works. At this point, only theories exist. By inducing the recall of distressing events and diverting attention from their emotional consequences, EMDR in some respects borrows basic principles used in prolonged exposure therapy, the gold standard behavioral psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD. Some therapists believe that EMDR reduces anxiety. This allows patients to better take control of their upsetting thoughts. Others simply say that we don't yet understand how EMDR works. According to the APA guidelines, EMDR needs further study to more fully understand it. Getting EMDR Treatment EMDR techniques are performed by trained professionals who are also qualified to treat panic disorder, such as psychologists or mental health counselors. If you are currently seeing a therapist who is not trained in EMDR, you can ask him or her to provide you with a referral. EMDR practitioners can also be found through online directories, including the EMDR Institute, Inc. directory or the EMDR International Association's list of treatment centers.
  5. until
    Post-traumatic Stress Awareness The United States Senate designated June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day and The National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has designated June as PTSD Awareness Month. What can you do if you or someone you care about needs help for PTSD? There are organizations and resources that can help both individuals and professionals discover ways to identify and manage PTSD symptoms. June is National PTSD Awareness Month EMDR Therapist Directory, EMDR Therapy Blog, EMDRIA.org FacebookLinkedInTwitterPinterestGoogle+Share Did you know June is National PTSD Awareness Month? PTSD Awareness Month is a national campaign devoted to bringing more awareness and knowledge about PTSD to everyone. What is PTSD? PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People may develop PTSD when they are exposed or witness something traumatic like war, physical violence, sexual violence, auto accidents and much more. After such events, a person may start suffering from symptoms if they were unable to process what happened to them or what they witnessed. The symptoms might include: Disturbing memories, thought Nightmares Have trouble sleeping Feel irritable or angry Have trouble concentrating Feel hyper-vigilant or on guard for fear of danger Experience flashback memories There is a website www.ptsd.va.gov that has been set up to help people learn more about PTSD and treatment options. Once treatment option that they talk about is EMDR Therapy. EMDR Therapy is an Evidence Based Treatment, which means that there is research that backs up the efficacy of using EMDR Therapy to treat PTSD successfully. What is EMDR Therapy? EMDR Therapy (or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) is an integrative therapy that helps people heal from Traumatic events as well as, life disturbing experiences. Discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro, EMDR Therapy has gottenworldwide attention for helping millions of people heal from PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) caused from traumatic events, such as; rape, sexual abuse, auto accidents and combat. EMDR Therapy can also help people who feel distress in their lives to heal and feel more whole after events that have been disturbing such as; divorce, life transitions, grief, anxiety and much more. When people are experiencing distress in their lives and can’t find a way to fix it on their own, they end up coming in for EMDR Therapy. Sometimes events happen in a person’s life and he/she struggles to find a way to integrate that incident. That event can become an unprocessed memory and get stored in the brain creating symptoms that are uncomfortable. Physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and images associated with the event can get locked into the brain, and without treatment, may lead to distressing symptoms and behaviors. EMDR Therapy is designed to help a person identify and process these stuck pieces so that the symptoms can decrease and one can feel more alive and less distressed. EMDR Therapy helps facilitate the activation of the brain’s inherent system to process and integrate the information that got stored or stuck. EMDR Therapy will not erase the memory; rather you will be able to remember the story without all the emotional charge that was distressing before the treatment. Resources for PTSD As a part of National PTSD Awareness Month, it is important to help those who are suffering from PTSD find the resources they need to start the healing process. EMDR Therapy is one of the many resources available to help those suffering from PTSD. If you (or someone you know) may want to learn more about or experience EMDR Therapy, please search the EMDR Therapist Directory on this website to find a trained EMDR Therapist in your area. Here are other resources available to learn more about PTSD and EMDR Therapy: VA National Center for PTSD About Face NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) NAMI.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness) EMDRIA.org (EMDR International Association) Follow the hashtag #PTSDAwarenessMonth to join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
  6. Non-Soldiers Suffer Post-Traumatic Stress August 15, 2005 GLENVILLE, N.Y. (AP) -- For hundreds of thousands of Americans, mental illness is just a drive down the road. Ask Beth Puglisi. The 45-year-old mother was out to fill her gas tank on a bitter-cold January day last year. She turned the wheel of her pickup, felt a wrenching jolt, and watched the roadway fly into a spin. "No!" she heard herself screech. The rubbery aroma of spilled antifreeze filled her nostrils. In the days after her crash with a car, she took to the couch, weeping -- but not over her fractured vertebra and dislocated shoulder. Her mind was staggering. "It felt like a death," she says. Her body was quickly tended, but it took months before doctors even put a name to her other injury: post-traumatic stress disorder. Once associated mainly with the horror of combat, PTSD has stretched to take in more frequent swerves along life's road -- car crashes, house fires, a sudden death or severe family illness, witnessing a disaster, or even learning of one. PTSD has broadened the model of mental illness to cover disturbances set off solely by external events, outside of the mind. Almost anyone can be vulnerable. Research suggests the disorder is now present in 5 percent of Americans, or more than 13 million, according to the PTSD Alliance, which unites professionals and advocates. It is expected to touch 8 percent of adults during their lives. By contrast, just over 3 percent of Americans have cancer. Puglisi had been in accidents before, but she never felt this way. She couldn't stop picking over this crash in her mind. It wasn't her fault; it just wasn't. So why did it have to happen? Why? Her family encouraged her to talk: "Each time I would tell someone about it, I could feel it and smell it -- the whole thing." In a kind of flashback typical of PTSD, she could still smell the antifreeze. As PTSD's debilitating anxiety took hold, Puglisi started to feel nervous, flushed, even lightheaded when she was driven to a doctor or physical therapist. She would tremble, and her chest would tighten: "Just thinking about it was making me crazy." When she tried driving again, she'd have to circle around to avoid making the same kind of turn as in the crash. She'd bypass where it happened. Ashamed, she asked her husband to drive the children to their activities. While television droned war news from Iraq, she felt trapped in her own combat zone: "When you're in the war, you have no idea if you're going to be alive or dead in 10 minutes. That's exactly the way I felt." Warring soldiers have carried home psychological scars for centuries. The ancient Greeks noticed it. In American wars, it has been called shell shock, combat fatigue and post-Vietnam syndrome. Though skeptics discounted some cases as shams meant to win compensation, other extreme cases were taken for schizophrenia. Medical authorities first accepted PTSD as a distinct psychiatric condition in 1980 at the urging of Vietnam veterans and their medical caretakers. In PTSD, stress hormones like adrenaline scorch a painful event deep into long-term memory, scientists believe. Lab studies show such hormones normally improve memory in animals. They seem to overshoot the mark in PTSD. People get very edgy and fearful, prone to nightmares or flashbacks. They desperately want to avoid reminders of their shock, even to the point of feeling numb. PTSD happens more often in women, in cases of multiple traumas (Puglisi had another road accident just a couple weeks earlier), and in people with depression. Once defined, the disease was soon embraced, and insurance coverage expanded. Here was a psychiatric condition touched off by concrete events, not something hidden in the mind's dim recesses. It could theoretically happen to anyone, even the hardiest and soundest of mind. It wasn't your fault. The federal government established the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It began researching PTSD and treating hundreds of thousands of veterans. Survivors from rape and car crashes began to seek therapy in greater numbers too. In 1994, the sudden death of a relative, or even learning that one was hurt, joined the expanding list of PTSD traumas in the chief diagnostic manual for psychiatry. By the late 1990s, when Dr. Greenbrier Almond was working as a psychiatrist at a West Virginia veterans hospital, PTSD was already its leading diagnosis, above heart disease and diabetes, he says. Over the past five years, the number of cases among veterans -- mostly from combat -- has exploded nationally by almost 80 percent to 215,871 last year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is the agency's fastest-growing disability. No similar statistics are collected for civilians, but the numbers are clearly substantial. Dr. Almond, who has left the veterans hospital, now treats PTSD in abused children at a community health clinic. Research at Henry Ford Health System, Harvard and Georgia State has identified the two leading causes of PTSD as unexpected deaths of relatives and car crashes. Combat ranks far down on the list. Some bad diagnosticians and purveyors of pop culture have come to consider just about any of life's shocks -- divorcing, losing a job, even failing a test -- as triggers for PTSD. Though veterans officials say rising awareness has driven most of their growth, they are also reviewing whether some cases have been diagnosed too readily. "Anything that happens to you that's remotely icky now qualifies," says psychologist J. Gayle Beck, at the University at Buffalo-State University of New York. "It's been culturally overdiagnosed." This psychiatric illness has carried cultural baggage since its birth in the social turmoil over the Vietnam War. The new disorder tied to external events meshed with a Kafkaesque view of society inherited from the 1960s: Outside forces constantly threaten peace of mind. Since 2001, PTSD has tapped into another source of anxiety: terrorists who can inflict mass death in an instant. A survey found highly elevated rates of PTSD in the New York metropolitan area, where the smoking towers of the World Trade Center could be seen for miles. Afterward, some companies sent reassuring notices to workers listing PTSD symptoms and saying they were common responses. One compared them to a minor flu. "It speaks to dangerous times and threats, and that certainly defines our era," says Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a Harvard University psychiatrist who helped define PTSD as a condition. "There is bound to be widespread PTSD and an awareness of it." Even so, many people with PTSD still do not come forward for help, caregivers say. And even experts may miss the signs. "My father dropped dead in front of my mother. She developed PTSD for two years, and I was completely unaware of it. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was PTSD," says psychologist Terence Keane. Yet he is director of behavioral science at the federal PTSD center. The good news is this: Even untreated, PTSD goes away in about half of the cases within six months, research indicates. The bad news: When it doesn't, it can last for decades. Puglisi had never needed therapy before and didn't think of treating her embarrassing automotive anxiety. "I would say I'm all right," she recalls. But she wasn't. Her doctor told her she'd soon get over it, but her physical therapists knew better. After several months, they persuaded her to look for help. She found Edward Hickling, a former veterans psychologist who now specializes in road-accident PTSD. "I came to private practice, and I saw motor-vehicle accident victims that looked a lot like ... the post-traumatic stress responses I saw in the veterans hospital," says the therapist based in nearby Albany. Like many PTSD therapists, he relies on cognitive behavioral therapy. A common psychological treatment, it teaches how to replace negative mental monologues ("I could die on the way to work") with positive, rational ones ("I'll probably get there just fine, as usual"). It can be carried out one-on-one or in groups. Like many PTSD therapists, Hickling re-exposes participants to memories of the terrifying situation, while desensitizing them over a few months or longer. They start by telling what happened and graduate to driving back to the crash site. One woman was able to drive back and gaze at the place where her car plunged down a hill, trapping her for more than two hours. Later, she felt as though she had "removed a cloud from her brain," according to Hickling. The therapy can work in up to 75 percent of road-accident survivors with chronic PTSD, research suggests. Some patients, though, can't tolerate thoughts of their ordeal. "It's just too painful," says psychologist Charles Figley, at Florida State University. Lesser symptoms persist in many people. Psychiatrists often treat PTSD with drugs. The federal government has approved two depression medicines, Zoloft and Paxil, for PTSD. Research suggests they help at least a quarter of PTSD patients. Other researchers are experimenting with potential PTSD drugs like anti-adrenaline agents and the antibiotic D-cycloserine. In theory, they might disrupt the consolidation of long-term PTSD memories or help the brain forget them later. Psychological therapy alone conquered Puglisi's symptoms, though it took a year. She still hasn't gone back to work but doesn't feel so alone. Now she knows of many others like her: "The mind does this sometimes." What happened to her, she has learned, is normal. Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
  7. Here is a new idea--actually an old idea that has been around for decades--that works: Transcendental Meditation. By USA Col. Brian Rees (ret.), MD, MPH, David O'Connell, PhD, and David Leffler, PhD Primary treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy are not proving effective. That's the conclusion of a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article calling for new ideas. The reality, the article points out, is that some two-thirds of combat veterans with PTSD are unable to free themselves from PTSD symptoms despite undergoing conventional treatments. Here is a new idea--actually an old idea that has been around for decades--that works: Transcendental Meditation. Research has shown that the practice of Transcendental Meditation ™ generates significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and in a short period of time. Examples: In a 1985 study, American Vietnam-era veterans with PTSD who were taught TM experienced major reductions in anxiety, depression, and negative personality traits. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, taught TM in 2011, had a 50 percent reduction in symptoms within a 3-month period. In a 2013 study of Congolese refugees who had been exposed to civil war, sexual abuse, torture, and/or the brutal slaying of loved ones, 90 percent of subjects improved into a "non-symptomatic" range within 30 days of learning TM and remained that way throughout the more than 4-month monitoring period. A follow-up 2014 study of Congolese refugees showed that major benefits occurred within a mere 10 days of learning TM. The benefits were determined to be larger than those seen with other behavioral and meditation, relaxation or stress management techniques. TM is a cost-effective, easily learned, and effortless mental technique derived from ancient practices in India. It is taught in a systematic, highly structured and standardized manner by highly trained teachers throughout the world. More than 350 peer-reviewed studies, showing positive effects on mental and physical health, have been published in research journals. Based on the science, the American Heart Association has described TM as the only behavioral technique that can be recommended for lowering hypertension. Moreover, research reviews have shown TM to be the most effective behavioral technique in reducing anxiety. Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy, conventional treatments used for PTSD, have been described as uncomfortable by many patients because they explicitly address and attempt to help patients process traumatic events and accompanying negative emotions and memories. In contrast, TM is not a therapy per se. Practitioners regularly describe their experiences with it as being pleasant and restful. With TM, negative emotions, thoughts and memories of past trauma are not explicitly addressed. Rather, regular TM practice leads to deep rest and a kind of passive processing of trauma. TM dissolves the deep stresses incurred on the physiological level and lessens identification with the trauma on the mental level. Brain wave activity becomes highly coherent, indicating orderliness and brain integration. Stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine, decrease. Measurements of relaxation and well-being, such as serotonin levels, galvanic skin resistance, and immune-modulatory effects, all increase. Although conventional approaches to PTSD can increase one's self-confidence and sense of mastery and provide better coping mechanisms, TM practice apparently goes deeper. It provides a broader spectrum of benefits, including increases in ego development, executive functioning, personality integration, creativity, problem-solving abilities and intelligence--improvements well beyond disorder-specific symptom reduction. Military personnel and veterans are often hesitant to seek PTSD treatment because it could be viewed as a sign of weakness. TM is a self-sufficient technique free from the possible stigma of mental health services. The U.S. Army's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program manual recognizes the need for "spiritual fitness." The fundamental damage in PTSD can be seen as spiritual. The individual is faced (over and over again for those tormented by intrusive thoughts and memories) with what seems to be hopelessly discouraging experiences that are irreconcilable with optimism. The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration have worked hard to address PTSD, but in the United States we have frequently medicalized what is essentially a moral/spiritual injury. Resolution may lie in the benefits generated by something simple and broadly effective such as TM, where individuals can find quick and easy access to inner calm, stress release, and even bliss. With regular practice of just 20 minutes twice a day, tormented souls get measurable psychological and physical benefits--and a real chance to become more peaceful, productive, and fulfilled, and to enjoy more of what life has to offer. Although more high quality research is needed to test TM as a stand-alone treatment as well as an adjunct to conventional and other novel PTSD approaches, we now know from existing studies that the practice works well. Very well. And our veterans should have access to it--and to any other programs that work well. They deserve it. Rees, a former VA doctor, is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College who served in the Army Reserve for 37 years, including five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the lead author of the two studies on TM for PTSD in Congolese refugees. His most recent book, Detained: Emails and musings from a spiritual journey through Abu Ghraib, Kandahar and other garden spots, was published this month; O'Connell is an author and has been a clinical and forensic psychologist for over 35 years. He most recently edited Prescribing Health: Transcendental Meditation in Contemporary Medical Care (New York, London: Rowman & Littlefield; 2015); Leffler is the executive director at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS). He served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly nine years and has published articles about TM in over 1,000 locations worldwide.
  8. P. T. S. D. – Veterans Sources: HelpGuide: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/ptsd-in-veterans.htm http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-relief-in-the-moment.htm Veterans’ Administration: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/family/ptsd-and-relationships.asp HelpGuide PTSD in Military Veterans Symptoms, Treatment, and the Road to Recovery for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Are you having a hard time readjusting to life outside the military? Are you always on edge, always on the verge of panicking or exploding, or, on the flip side, do you feel emotionally numb and disconnected from your loved ones? Do you believe that you’ll never feel normal again? For all too many veterans, these are common experiences—lingering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s hard living with untreated PTSD and, with long V.A. wait times, it’s easy to get discouraged. But you can feel better, and you can start today, even while you’re waiting for professional treatment. There are things you can do to help yourself overcome PTSD and come out the other side even stronger than before. What is PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress, occurs after experiencing severe trauma or a life-threatening event. It’s normal for the mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets “stuck.” The latest research into the brain shows that there are three ways of regulating the nervous system and responding to stressful events: Social engagement is the most evolved strategy for keeping yourself feeling calm and safe. Socially interacting with another person—making eye contact, listening in an attentive way, talking—can quickly calm you down and put the brakes on defensive responses like “fight-or-flight.”Mobilization, otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response, occurs when social engagement isn’t an appropriate response—such as in a combat situation—and you need to either defend yourself or escape the danger at hand. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus. Once the danger has passed, your nervous system then calms the body, slowing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and winding back down to its normal balance.Immobilization. Immobilization occurs when you’ve experienced a traumatic amount of stress—in combat, for example. The physical danger of war has passed but you find yourself “stuck,” your nervous system unable to return to its pre-stress state of balance. This is PTSD.Who is affected by PTSD? Many military veterans develop symptoms of PTSD. In fact, military service is the most common cause of PTSD in men. Close to 30 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD. For veterans who saw combat, the numbers are even higher, up to 49%. The more tours you made and the more combat you experienced, the more likely it is that you’ll develop PTSD. But however isolated or emotionally cut off from others you feel, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and there are things you can do to help yourself. What are the symptoms of PTSD in veterans? Symptoms sometimes don’t surface for months or even years after returning from deployment. While PTSD develops differently from veteran to veteran, there are four symptom clusters: Recurrent, intrusive reminders of the traumatic event, including distressing thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks where you feel like it’s happening again. Experiencing extreme emotional and physical reactions to reminders of the trauma (panic attacks, uncontrollable shaking, heart palpitations, etc.).Extreme avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event, including people, places, people, thoughts, or situations you associate with the bad memories. Withdrawing from friends and family and losing interest in everyday activities.Negative changes in thoughts and mood, such as exaggerated negative beliefs about yourself or the world and persistent feelings of fear, guilt, or shame. Diminished ability to experience positive emotions and feeling detached from others.Being on guard all the time, jumpy, and emotionally reactive, as indicated by irritability, angry outbursts, reckless behavior, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, hypervigilance, and an exaggerated start response.Suicide prevention in veterans with PTSD Suicidal thoughts and feelings are common symptoms of PTSD among military veterans. Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and it doesn't mean that you are crazy, weak, or flawed. If you are thinking about taking your own life, seek help immediately. Please read Suicide Help, talk to someone you trust, or call a suicide helpline: In the U.S., call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).In the UK, call 08457 90 90 90.In Australia, call 13 11 14. Or visit IASP to find a helpline in your country. Self-help for PTSD in veterans While it’s common for veterans with PTSD to have to endure long waits for treatment at the V.A., there are plenty of things you can do for yourself to start feeling better. The job of recovery is to transition out of the mental and emotional war zone you’re still living in and help your nervous system return to its pre-war state of balance. As discussed above, the best way to regulate your nervous system is through social engagement—interacting with another human being, be it a loved one, a family member or a professional therapist. However, as a veteran with PTSD, you need to first become “unstuck” and move out of the immobilization stress response. With these recovery steps, you’ll learn how to deal with your combat stress and also learn skills that can benefit the rest of your post-war life. You’ll learn how to feel calm again, reconnect with others, deal with nightmares and flashbacks, cope with feelings of depression, anxiety, or guilt, and restore your sense of control. And when you do get to see a doctor or therapist at the V.A., you’ll be in a better position to benefit from professional treatment as well. The Road to PTSD Recovery for Veterans, 7 Steps: 1) The road to PTSD recovery step 1: Get moving Getting regular exercise has always been important for veterans with PTSD. As well as helping to burn off adrenaline, exercise can release endorphins and make you feel better, both mentally and physically. However, new research suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move out of the immobilization stress response. Any exercise that engages both your arms and legs—such as running, swimming, basketball, or even dancing—will work well if, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts as you exercise, you focus on how your body feels instead. Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. Many veterans find rock climbing, boxing, or martial arts especially effective as these activities make it easier to focus on your body movements—after all, if you don’t, you could get seriously hurt. 2) The road to PTSD recovery step 2: Connect with others Social interaction with someone who cares about you is an effective way to calm your nervous system. For any veteran with PTSD, it’s important to find someone you can connect with face to face—someone you can talk to for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or continually being distracted by the phone or other people. That person may be your significant other, a family member, one of your buddies from the service, or a civilian friend. You may feel like the civilians in your life can’t understand you since they don't know what it's like to be in the military or to have seen the things you have. But people don't have to have gone through the exact same experiences to understand and relate to painful emotions and be able to offer support. What matters is that the person you're turning to cares about you, is a good listener, and is able to be there for you as a source of strength and comfort. If you're not ready to open up about the details of what happened, that's perfectly okay. You can talk about how you feel without going into a blow-by-blow account of events. You can also tell the other person what you need or what they can do to help, whether it's just sitting with you, listening, or doing something practical. Comfort comes from someone else understanding your emotional experience. You’ll also find that people who care about you welcome the opportunity to help. Listening is not a burden for them but an opportunity. How PTSD can get in the way of connecting with others Many veterans find that PTSD can leave them feeling disconnected, withdrawn and, while their nervous system is still stuck, make it tough to connect with other people. No matter how close they are to the person, or how helpful that person tries to be, they just don’t feel any better after talking with them. If that describes you, there are some things you can do to help the process along. Before you’re due to sit down with a friend over a alcohol or coffee, for example, take some time to exercise, as described in step 1 above. As well as calming you when you’re feeling anxious, irritable or on edge, physical movement can also open your nervous system’s pathway to social engagement. Think of it as shaking loose all the blockages to connecting with people. If working out isn’t practical, find a quiet place and take a few minutes before you meet your friend to move around, jump up and down, swing your arms and legs—in other words, flail around like you did as a three year old. A few minutes of that and you’ll be breathing heavily, your head will feel clearer, and you’ll be in a better place to connect. It may sound weird, but vocal toning is also a great way to open up your nervous system to social engagement—even if you can’t sing or consider yourself “tone-deaf.” Again, find a quiet place before hooking up with a buddy and, with your lips together and teeth slightly apart, simply make “mmmm” sounds. Change the pitch and volume until you experience a pleasant vibration in your face. Practice for a few minutes and notice if the vibration spreads to your heart and stomach as well. Other ways to connect with others Many veterans find it helpful to join a PTSD support group or to connect with other veterans or trauma survivors. Listening to others' stories and struggles may help you feel less isolated. You can also volunteer in the community, which can help you feel more connected and useful, especially if you’re not currently working. 3) The road to PTSD recovery step 3: More ways to calm your nervous system Just as loud noises, certain smells, or the feel of sand in your clothes can instantly transport you back to the trauma of a combat zone, so too can sights, sounds, smells, and other sensory input quickly calm you down. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Think back to your time on deployment: what brought you comfort at the end of the day? Perhaps it was looking at photos of your family? Or maybe it was the taste of candy in a care package from home, or listening to a favorite song, or smelling a certain brand of soap or cologne? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel calm and centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you. 4) The road to PTSD recovery step 4: Take care of your body The symptoms of PTSD can be hard on your body so it’s important to put a priority on sleep, exercise, healthy food, and relaxing activities. You may find it very difficult to relax at first. It’s common for veterans to be drawn to behaviors that pump up adrenaline. After being in a combat zone, that’s what feels normal. Without the rush, you feel strange or even dead inside. Things you may turn to for that familiar adrenaline rush include energy drinks, coffee, drugs, cigarettes, violent video games, and daredevil sports. If you recognize these urges for what they are, you can make better choices that will calm and care for your body and mind. Healthy habits for veterans with PTSD Here are some active steps you can take to improve your PTSD symptoms: Take time to rest and restore your body’s balance. Relaxation techniques such as massage, meditation, yoga, and tai chi are powerful defensive weapons against the symptoms of PTSD.Avoid alcohol and drugs (including nicotine). It can be tempting to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb painful feelings and memories and get to sleep. But substance abuse can make the symptoms of PTSD worse and compound your problems. The same goes for cigarettes.Find safe ways to blow off steam. Pound on a punching bag, pummel a pillow, go for a hard run, sing along to loud music, head to the gym for a vigorous workout, go somewhere private where you can scream at the top of your lungs, or vent in your journal or to someone you trust.Support your body with a healthy diet. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and whole grains, to support mental clarity and physical stamina. Limit processed sugars, which can exacerbate mood swings and energy fluctuations.Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation exacerbates anger, irritability, and moodiness. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual (listen to calming music, watch a funny show, or read something light) and make your bedroom as soothing as possible. Use curtains to block outside light and if noise is a problem, try using a sound machine. 5) The road to PTSD recovery step 5: Deal with flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts Flashbacks usually involve visual and auditory memories of combat or other trauma you experienced. It feels as if it’s happening all over again so it’s vital for you to accept and reassure yourself that your traumatic experience is not occurring in the present. One effective technique is to state to yourself (either out loud or in your head) the reality that while you feel as if the trauma is currently happening, you can look around and recognize that you’re safe. Here’s a simple script you can use when you awaken from a nightmare or start to experience a flashback or intrusive thought: “I am feeling [panicked, overwhelmed, etc.] because I am remembering [traumatic event], but as I look around I can see that the event isn’t happening right now and I’m not actually in danger.” Other techniques that can be helpful in bringing you back to the present include tapping your arms or describing what you see when look around (name the place where you are, the current date, and three things you see when you look around). Tips for grounding yourself during a flashback If you’re starting to disassociate or experience a flashback, try using your senses to bring you back to the present and "ground" yourself. Experiment to find what works best for you. Movement: Move around vigorously (run in place, jump up and down, etc.); rub your hands together; shake your head Touch : Splash cold water on your face; grip a piece of ice; touch or grab on to a safe object; pinch yourself; play with worry beads or a stress ball Sight: Blink rapidly and firmly; look around and take inventory of what you see Sound : Turn on loud music; clap your hands or stomp your feet; talk to yourself (tell yourself you’re safe, that you’ll be okay) Smell: Smell something that links you to the present (coffee, mouthwash, your wife’s perfume) or a scent that has good memories Taste : Suck on a strong mint or chew a piece of gum; bite into something tart or spicy; drink a glass of cold water or juice 6) The road to PTSD recovery step 6: Work through survivor's guilt Feelings of guilt are very common among veterans with PTSD. You may have seen people injured or killed, often your friends and comrades. You may ask yourself questions such as: Why didn’t I get hurt?Why did I survive when others didn’t?Could I have done something differently to save them? You may end up blaming yourself for what happened and believing that your actions (or inability to act) led to someone else’s death. You may feel like others deserved to live more than you—that you’re the one who should have died. This is survivor’s guilt. Healing from survivor's guilt Healing doesn’t mean that you’ll forget what happened or those who died. And it doesn’t mean you’ll have no regrets. What it does mean is that you’ll look at your role more realistically. Remember, you are only human. The following questions can help you “reality test” your guilty feelings: Is the amount of responsibility you’re assuming reasonable?Could you really have prevented or stopped what happened? Could you really have reacted differently?Are you judging your decisions based on full information about the event, or just your emotions?Did you do your best at the time, under challenging circumstances?Do you truly believe that if you had died, someone else would have survived? Honestly assessing your responsibility and role can free you to move on and grieve your losses. Instead of punishing yourself, you can redirect your energy into honoring those you lost and finding ways to keep their memory alive. And in those cases where you truly believe you did something wrong, you can make amends. Even when you can’t make amends directly, there is always something you can do (such as volunteering for a cause that’s connected in some way to one of the friends you lost). The goal is to put your guilt to positive use, and thus transform tragedy, even in a small way, into something good. 7) The road to PTSD recovery step 7: Seek professional treatment Under the guidance of an experienced therapist or doctor, there are several different types of professional treatment for PTSD available. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or “counselling” involves carefully and gradually “exposing” yourself to thoughts and feelings that remind you of the event. Therapy also involves identifying distorted and irrational thoughts about the event—and replacing them with more balanced picture.Medication, such as antidepressants, is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety. While antidepressants may help you feel less sad, worried, or on edge, they do not treat the causes of PTSD.EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. These work by helping the nervous system become “unstuck.” Veterans’ Administration Relationships and PTSD How does trauma affect relationships? Trauma survivors with PTSD may have trouble with their close family relationships or friendships. The symptoms of PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem solving. These problems may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern can develop that may sometimes harm relationships. How might trauma survivors react? In the first weeks and months following a trauma, survivors may feel angry, detached, tense or worried in their relationships. In time, most are able to resume their prior level of closeness in relationships. Yet the 5% to 10% of survivors who develop PTSD may have lasting relationship problems. Survivors with PTSD may feel distant from others and feel numb. They may have less interest in social or sexual activities. Because survivors feel irritable, on guard, jumpy, worried, or nervous, they may not be able to relax or be intimate. They may also feel an increased need to protect their loved ones. They may come across as tense or demanding. The trauma survivor may often have trauma memories or flashbacks. He or she might go to great lengths to avoid such memories. Survivors may avoid any activity that could trigger a memory. If the survivor has trouble sleeping or has nightmares, both the survivor and partner may not be able to get enough rest. This may make sleeping together harder. Survivors often struggle with intense anger and impulses. In order to suppress angry feelings and actions, they may avoid closeness. They may push away or find fault with loved ones and friends. Also, drinking and drug problems, which can be an attempt to cope with PTSD, can destroy intimacy and friendships. Verbal or physical violence can occur. In other cases, survivors may depend too much on their partners, family members, and friends. This could also include support persons such as health care providers or therapists. Dealing with these symptoms can take up a lot of the survivor's attention. He or she may not be able to focus on the partner. It may be hard to listen carefully and make decisions together with someone else. Partners may come to feel that talking together and working as a team are not possible. How might loved ones react? Partners, friends, or family members may feel hurt, cut off, or down because the survivor has not been able to get over the trauma. Loved ones may become angry or distant toward the survivor. They may feel pressured, tense, and controlled. The survivor's symptoms can make a loved one feel like he or she is living in a war zone or in constant threat of danger. Living with someone who has PTSD can sometimes lead the partner to have some of the same feelings of having been through trauma. In sum, a person who goes through a trauma may have certain common reactions. These reactions affect the people around the survivor. Family, friends, and others then react to how the survivor is behaving. This in turn comes back to affect the person who went through the trauma. Trauma types and relationships Certain types of "man-made" traumas can have a more severe effect on relationships. These traumas include: Childhood sexual and physical abuseRapeDomestic violenceCombatTerrorismGenocideTortureKidnappingPrisoner of war Survivors of man-made traumas often feel a lasting sense of terror, horror, endangerment, and betrayal. These feelings affect how they relate to others. They may feel like they are letting down their guard if they get close to someone else and trust them. This is not to say a survivor never feels a strong bond of love or friendship. However, a close relationship can also feel scary or dangerous to a trauma survivor. Do all trauma survivors have relationship problems? Many trauma survivors do not develop PTSD. Also, many people with PTSD do not have relationship problems. People with PTSD can create and maintain good relationships by: Building a personal support network to help cope with PTSD while working on family and friend relationshipsSharing feelings honestly and openly, with respect and compassionBuilding skills at problem solving and connecting with othersIncluding ways to play, be creative, relax, and enjoy others What can be done to help someone who has PTSD? Relations with others are very important for trauma survivors. Social support is one of the best things to protect against getting PTSD. Relationships can offset feelings of being alone. Relationships may also help the survivor's self-esteem. This may help reduce depression and guilt. A relationship can also give the survivor a way to help someone else. Helping others can reduce feelings of failure or feeling cut off from others. Lastly, relationships are a source of support when coping with stress. If you need to seek professional help, try to find a therapist who has skills in treating PTSD as well as working with couples or families. For resources, please see our Where to Get Help for PTSD page. Many treatment approaches may be helpful for dealing with relationship issues. Options include: One-to-one and group therapyAnger and stress managementAssertiveness trainingCouples counselingFamily education classesFamily therapy
  9. P. T. S. D. – Helping Your Child Cope With Traumatic Events Sources: Anxiety & Depression Association of America: http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children-and-teens/tips-parents-and-caregivers/help-your-child-manage-traumatic- http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml HelpGuide: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.htm KidsHealth: http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/ptsd.html Veterans’ Administration: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/family/ptsd-children-adolescents.asp http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/family/very_young_trauma_survivors.asp Anxiety & Depression Association of America Help Your Child Manage Traumatic Events Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, most adults have accepted that we live in a new era of trying times. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, as well as explosions, and other traumatic events threaten our sense of safety and security, and they occur around the world on any given day. Adults often struggle with the effects of trauma, even though they understand them. But children react differently based on their personality, age, and circumstances. Children rely on the support of parents and teachers to help them deal with their emotions during and after traumatic events. Parents should decide how much information their children can handle. ADAA member Aureen Wagner, PhD, Director of The Anxiety Wellness Center in Cary, North Carolina, offers this recommendation for parents: “Remain as calm as possible; watch and listen to your child to understand how upset he or she is. Explain a traumatic event as accurately as possible, but don’t give graphic details. It’s best not to give more information than your child asks for. Let your child know that it is normal to feel upset, scared or angry. If older children or teenagers want to watch television or read news online about a traumatic event, be available to them, especially to discuss what they are seeing and reading.” These tips are important for children and adolescents of all ages: Reassure them that you’ll do everything you can to keep them and their loved ones safe.Encourage them to talk and ask questionsLet them know that they can be open about their feelings.Answer questions honestly.Protect them from what they don’t need to know.Avoid discussing worst-case scenarios.Limit excessive watching and listening to graphic replays of the traumatic eventStick to your daily routine as much as possible. Most children and teenagers will recover from their fear. But you can watch for these signs of ongoing distress: Difficulty sleepingChange in eating habitsClinginessRe-experiencing the event through nightmares, recollections, or playAvoidance anything reminiscent of the eventEmotional numbing or lack of feeling about the eventJumpinessPersistent fears about another disaster If after a month or so your child is still showing signs of distress, professional help may be indicated. Children who have trouble getting beyond their fears may be suffering from PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder. And that’s when it’s time to seek the assistance of a mental health professional. Many effective treatments are available for children and teens. Anxiety & Depression Association of America (Anxiety & Depression In) Children & Teens Anxiety and depression are treatable, but 80% of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60% of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment, according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report. Anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and every child goes through phases. A phase is temporary and usually harmless. But children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, and shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities. A child who sees a scary movie and then has trouble falling asleep or has a similar temporary fear can be reassured and comforted. But that is not enough to help a child with an anxiety disorder get past his or her fear and anxiety. Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety disorders often co-occur with depression as well as eating disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others. With treatment and support, your child can learn how to successfully manage the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and depression and live a normal childhood. National Institute of Mental Health Do Children React Differently (To PTSD) Than Adults? Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children, these symptoms can include: Bedwetting, when they’d learned how to use the toilet beforeForgetting how or being unable to talkActing out the scary event during playtimeBeing unusually clingy with a parent or other adult. Older children and teens usually show symptoms more like those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge. For more information, see the NIMH booklets on helping children cope with violence and disasters. HelpGuide Symptoms of PTSD In Children & Adolescents In children—especially those who are very young—the symptoms of PTSD can be different than those in adults. Symptoms in children include: Fear of being separated from parentLosing previously-acquired skills (such as toilet training)Sleep problems and nightmares without recognizable contentSomber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeatedNew phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as a fear of monsters)Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawingsAches and pains with no apparent causeIrritability and aggression Veterans’ Administration Very Young Trauma Survivors: The Role of Attachment Years ago, little was known about PTSD in infants and young children. Today, we know that trauma and abuse can have grave impact on the very young. We also know how much the attachment or bond between a child and parent matters as a young child grows. This can make a difference in how a child responds to trauma. Below we discuss rates of trauma-related problems in infants and young children, as well as treatment options. How many infants and young children are abused? In the United States, Child Protective Services receives reports on the abuse or neglect of about 5.5 million children in a year. Infants and young children have more risk of abuse than older children. Over one-third of proven reports to child protection services are for children under the age of five years. Further, children are most often hurt or killed from abuse when they are in the first year of life. Over three-quarters of children killed due to abuse are under the age of three years. How do trauma and neglect affect infants and young children? As with adults, following trauma, most children will have some symptoms. Young children may show a fear of strangers or be scared to leave their parent. They might also have sleep problems or bad dreams. Young children may also repeat themes of the trauma in their play. For example, a child who was sexually abused in her bed might play out "dark" bedroom scenes with dolls. They might also be more fussy, irritable, aggressive, or reckless. Young children may lose skills they once had, such as toilet training. They might go back to earlier habits, like sucking their thumb. Very young children may not show the same PTSD symptoms we see in adults. This may be because many of the symptoms of PTSD require that the child be able to talk about what happened. Early trauma affects the child's nervous system. The nervous system is shaped by the child's experiences. Stress over a period of time can lead to changes in the parts of the brain that control and manage feelings. That is to say, stress and trauma early in life can change the brain. This can have long-term effects on physical, mental, and emotional growth. What's more, the impact of early abuse often extends into later childhood, teen, and even adult years. Diagnosing PTSD in infants and young children Although most children have symptoms following trauma, only a few will go on to get PTSD. Diagnosing PTSD in children can be difficult. The definition of trauma that is used to diagnose PTSD is specific. It says that a person must feel fear, helplessness, or horror for an event to be a "trauma." It is hard to say if this happens for a very small child. Young children are often not able to describe in words the event or how they felt about it. For this reason, other ways of diagnosing PTSD have been created for use with children ages zero to three years. What is attachment? Attachment is the connection found in the main relationship in a child's life. Usually it is with his or her caregiver. Children and parents are meant to form attachments with each other. For example, your baby is born knowing how to cuddle and cry, and it causes you to respond. Also, infants like their caregiver's face and voice more than other sights and sounds. The type of attachment between a child and caregiver can affect how a child will relate to the people she or he comes across in life. Why is attachment important when dealing with trauma? A child's main attachment helps him learn to control his emotions and thoughts. When a caregiver's responses are in tune with a child's needs, the child feels secure. The child then uses this relationship pattern as practice to build coping skills. On the other hand, a child who gets confusing or inconsistent responses from the caregiver might be fussy, have a hard time calming down, withdraw from others, or have tantrums. Children also use their caregivers to guide how they should respond to events. Have you noticed how a child sometimes looks at his or her parent to know how to respond? When you stop your child from doing something unsafe, he in time learns to stop himself. So a parent's reaction to trauma affects the child. Through a relationship with their caregiver, children learn how to be in charge of feelings and behaviors, and how to act with other people. Here are some examples: If a caregiver often helps a child manage her feelings, the child can build coping skills. This could lead to better healing for children who go through trauma.A traumatic event might hurt the attachment between a caregiver and child due to strong feelings that get in the way of a good relationship. Sometimes a child can be angry toward her parent for not keeping her safe. Even very young children can have these feelings. Or, a parent might feel guilty about the event and this might affect the relationship.If the caregiver has her own trauma history, her symptoms (trying not to feel, always worried about danger) might get in the way of caring for her child. What kind of help is out there? Child health care settings, doctors, and other health care providers can give support, education, safety planning, and information about treatment.Child and family social services can help caregivers with many issues.In-home nurses and other providers can help new parents provide good care for their young children. They might help with feeding, sleep, safety, or illness.Therapy is needed if relationship problems or PTSD symptoms do not get better. Treatment that involves the caregiver and child together is best for cases with poor attachment and trauma. One such treatment is called child-parent psychotherapy (CPP). CPP helps caregivers understand their children, keep them safe, and give emotional help.For some children, treatment does not take place for many years. No matter the age, when trauma and PTSD are involved, evidence-based, effective treatment exists. Veterans’ Administration PTSD In Children & Teens What events cause PTSD in children? Children and teens could have PTSD if they have lived through an event that could have caused them or someone else to be killed or badly hurt. Such events include sexual or physical abuse or other violent crimes. Disasters such as floods, school shootings, car crashes, or fires might also cause PTSD. Other events that can cause PTSD are war, a friend's suicide, or seeing violence in the area they live. Child protection services in the U.S. get around three million reports each year. This involves 5.5 million children. Of the reported cases, there is proof of abuse in about 30%. From these cases, we have an idea how often different types of abuse occur: 65% neglect18% physical abuse10% sexual abuse7% psychological (mental) abuse Also, three to ten million children witness family violence each year. Around 40% to 60% of those cases involve child physical abuse. (Note: It is thought that two-thirds of child abuse cases are not reported.) How many children get PTSD? Studies show that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma. Of those children and teens who have had a trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. Rates of PTSD are higher for certain types of trauma survivors. What are the risk factors for PTSD? Three factors have been shown to raise the chances that children will get PTSD. These factors are: How severe the trauma isHow the parents react to the traumaHow close or far away the child is from the trauma Children and teens that go through the most severe traumas tend to have the highest levels of PTSD symptoms. The PTSD symptoms may be less severe if the child has more family support and if the parents are less upset by the trauma. Lastly, children and teens who are farther away from the event report less distress. Other factors can also affect PTSD. Events that involve people hurting other people, such as rape and assault, are more likely to result in PTSD than other types of traumas. Also, the more traumas a child goes through, the higher the risk of getting PTSD. Girls are more likely than boys to get PTSD. It is not clear whether a child's ethnic group may affect PTSD. Some research shows that minorities have higher levels of PTSD symptoms. Other research suggests this may be because minorities may go through more traumas. Another question is whether a child's age at the time of the trauma has an effect on PTSD. Researchers think it may not be that the effects of trauma differ according to the child's age. Rather, it may be that PTSD looks different in children of different ages. What does PTSD look like in children? School-aged children (ages 5-12) These children may not have flashbacks or problems remembering parts of the trauma, the way adults with PTSD often do. Children, though, might put the events of the trauma in the wrong order. They might also think there were signs that the trauma was going to happen. As a result, they think that they will see these signs again before another trauma happens. They think that if they pay attention, they can avoid future traumas. Children of this age might also show signs of PTSD in their play. They might keep repeating a part of the trauma. These games do not make their worry and distress go away. For example, a child might always want to play shooting games after he sees a school shooting. Children may also fit parts of the trauma into their daily lives. For example, a child might carry a gun to school after seeing a school shooting. Teens (ages 12-18) Teens are in between children and adults. Some PTSD symptoms in teens begin to look like those of adults. One difference is that teens are more likely than younger children or adults to show impulsive and aggressive behaviors. What are the other effects of trauma on children? Besides PTSD, children and teens that have gone through trauma often have other types of problems. Much of what we know about the effects of trauma on children comes from the research on child sexual abuse. This research shows that sexually abused children often have problems with Fear, worry, sadness, anger, feeling alone and apart from others, feeling as if people are looking down on them, low self-worth, and not being able to trust othersBehaviors such as aggression, out-of-place sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcoholHow is PTSD treated in children and teens? For many children, PTSD symptoms go away on their own after a few months. Yet some children show symptoms for years if they do not get treatment. There are many treatment options, described below: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) CBT is the most effective approach for treating children. One type of CBT is called Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT). In TF-CBT, the child may talk about his or her memory of the trauma. TF-CBT also includes techniques to help lower worry and stress. The child may learn how to assert himself or herself. The therapy may involve learning to change thoughts or beliefs about the trauma that are not correct or true. For example, after a trauma, a child may start thinking, "the world is totally unsafe." Some may question whether children should be asked to think about and remember events that scared them. However, this type of treatment approach is useful when children are distressed by memories of the trauma. The child can be taught at his or her own pace to relax while they are thinking about the trauma. That way, they learn that they do not have to be afraid of their memories. Research shows that TF-CBT is safe and effective for children with PTSD. CBT often uses training for parents and caregivers as well. It is important for caregivers to understand the effects of PTSD. Parents need to learn coping skills that will help them help their children. Psychological first aid/crisis management Psychological First Aid (PFA) has been used with school-aged children and teens that have been through violence where they live. PFA can be used in schools and traditional settings. It involves providing comfort and support, and letting children know their reactions are normal. PFA teaches calming and problem solving skills. PFA also helps caregivers deal with changes in the child's feelings and behavior. Children with more severe symptoms may be referred for added treatment. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) EMDR combines cognitive therapy with directed eye movements. EMDR is effective in treating both children and adults with PTSD, yet studies indicate that the eye movements are not needed to make it work. Play therapy Play therapy can be used to treat young children with PTSD who are not able to deal with the trauma more directly. The therapist uses games, drawings, and other methods to help children process their traumatic memories. Other treatments Special treatments may be needed for children who show out-of-place sexual behaviors, extreme behavior problems, or problems with drugs or alcohol. What can you do to help? Reading this fact sheet is a first step toward helping your child. Learn about PTSD and pay attention to how your child is doing. Watch for signs such as sleep problems, anger, and avoidance of certain people or places. Also watch for changes in school performance and problems with friends. You may need to get professional help for your child. Find a mental health provider who has treated PTSD in children. Ask how the therapist treats PTSD, and choose someone who makes you and your child feel at ease. You, as a parent, might also get help from talking to a therapist on your own.
  10. I had lunch with my dad and step-mom today, both wonderful people and I love them very much. My step-mom was asking questions about how I was, trying to understand why I'm having such troubles with stress and pressures of life. I told her that there was a lot about my PTSD I don't share, because Dad doesn't like talking about it. He then said, "Just get on with life, leave the pain behind, move on." I said, "I did that for all my life, Dad, which is why I am in the state I'm in right now." He shook his head, he said, "I just don't understand it, so it's better if we don't talk about it." I agreed with him. I said, "Ya. That's why I don't talk about it." I love him very much and try to see him and my step-mom at least once a month for dinner or a visit or something. It bothers me that he doesn't want to know or understand, but it doesn't at the same time. He has never been my emotional go to guy. He has been there for me in other ways, but not in that emotionally supportive type of way. I wish he wanted to know, but maybe he is afraid to know, too. He doesn't have to know for us to have a relationship and to love one another. I guess that's very adult and mature of me? LOL I wanted to open up and tell my step-mom the things that happened to me that my dad knows about (he always advised me to soldier on) and the things he doesn't know about because I could never tell him (molestation as a girl). However, I can't talk about it in front of him. It spoils a pleasant visit. I almost asked my step-mom to get together for lunch with me, just me and her, so we could talk about it, because I think she's concerned and curious. I want to open up to her. I do love her, she is a kind and wonderful person. I just don't see why it would help anything to tell her. If she really wants to know, she would contact me on her own and we could talk about it, hey, and I don't feel she needs to have the information that my dad denies and the other stuff I won't tell him. I guess there's no point to this post, other than to just share the experience, and ask if anyone else has these issues with their parents regarding depression and mental illness? Do they know? Do they want to know? If they know, how do they respond? Are they there for you, or not? How's it affected the relationship? Do you wish they wanted to know more? Or do you keep it from them?
  11. I wanted to talk about my therapist. I was assessed by my psychiatrist as having PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Stress induced psychosis, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She referred me to my therapist, "G". "G" takes an approach I'd never heard of before called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or A.C.T. It's really hard to describe ACT so I'm including a link for those who are curious Acceptance and Commitment Therapy I've been in ACT therapy with "G" for about 3 months. It's really helping me. It seems to be slowly opening internal doors. I now can see how much I've repressed the sexual abuses that caused my PTSD (there have been more than two and more than one 'type' of abuse). I never wanted those things to define me or to have an impact on my life. I just wanted to go on as if they'd never happened. I did act (and eventually pushed into my subconscious) like they never happened, but what I didn't know is that I just repressed them, buried them, pushed them down so deep that I didn't realize the effects they had on my day to day choices, my big decisions, my reactions -- indeed, my whole life. I find it amazing how I've morphed myself around the PTSD, how normal it seemed to develop these psychological survival mechanisms, and how I didn't even realize what I was doing to be able to go on. I never thought I needed help. Anytime I was dealing with PTSD symptoms, I would ignore them or try to move on past them, never dealing with them. I refused -- didn't know how to -- look. I have been dealing with PTSD for so long, it seems normal to me. It seems like that's what life is. I don't know any different! Or... I didn't know any different until just recently, when I really saw for the first time what has been going on. Dots get connected, things start to manifest and make sense. It's like a veil has been pulled from my vision, and for the first time I can see a promise in life that I have never seen before. I see that I can live without this constant pain, a pain I didn't even see because I have been that pain for most of my life. It's like I've been brought out of the ocean for the first time, a fish out of water... but, in a good way! It means so much to me that I'm able to see. It's like I've been given sight. It sounds miraculous, but it's just the process of ACT. I don't know that it will work for everyone, but I think it's worth a try if you have suffered as long as I have with PTSD. Just wanted to share. I hope today finds you better than yesterday ((hugs)).
  12. I've never posted on something like this so bear with me.. Here's a bit of history. I'm 19, currently taking online classes for an associates in psychology. I've had anxiety and depression problems as long as I can remember. I had a very mentally and emotionally abusive childhood til I was 15(mom finally made alcoholic bipolar dad leave). So it's safe to say I've never felt safe in my entire life. I'd even ask my mom since I was 5 why she wouldn't leave dad. Ugh, thinking about that makes me sick, that someone that young had the common sense that the situation was wrong. Anyways, after they got divorced my mom made me go to counseling cause I was having panic attacks whenever I'd go to school. Turns out I have PTSD and anxiety (and I think bipolar, I have all the symptoms of bipolar 2). Then she made me go to a psychiatrist and tried every antidepressant. Each either did nothing or made it worse, and I dont like the idea of medications. My anxiety was so bad I couldn't go to school and had to finish high school online. And the PTSD was awful back then, I had the same nightmare for 2 yrs straight (that my dad was going to hurt me or did). I had to get put on ambien just to get a few hrs of sleep.The anxiety from the ptsd was so bad I looked under my bed every night thinking my dad would jump out and hurt me in my sleep. I always locked my bedroom door, and some nights would put something in front of the front door so if he broke in I'd hear it. To a normal person this probably sounds crazy, but I was terrified. As a result of both the ptsd and anxiety I slowly began isolating myself. And the times I tried to do something my mom would say no for no reason, which further isolated me. Now to the present. I'm currently taking xanax xr as needed for severe panic attacks. I've been thinking about moving out for the last yr or so, thinking being on my own and having some independence might make me more confident and less anxious. Living at home isn't bad, I have everything I could want and more, but I feel I need to start taking steps to growing up. My goal is to be able to move to California and become a makeup artist, but I need to have experience living on my own near home before I do that. And sometimes I feed suffocated. My mom can tend to be negative and over-react about little things, which i feel is making my anxiety worse. She went out of town for a few days and I had little to no anxiety. I even went to the grocery store by myself, which i never do. It felt great, probably the best I've felt in yrs. Now I'm trying to do the whole moving out thing. I found the perfect house that I can afford. I've never had a job, but I have trust fund $ for rent and utilities, and my mom's offering to help with the extra $ for groceries and things. But now that it's coming down to making the final decision, I'm more anxious than ever. I've been constantly anxious since I saw the house and the option became real. I want to be on my own so bad, but I fear it might make everything worse, and then I'm stuck for a year. And I'm scared I won't be able to get a job if the anxiety gets worse or doesn't improve, and that would make me feel like a failure having to rely on my mom even somewhat financially for the whole yr. I know I'd be able to make it financially even without a job, but I feel that I should be able to do that at this age. And ALWAYS being alone scares me. I'm alone most of the time now (due to anxiety I've lost alot of friends) anyways but knowing at the end of the day I'd be in a house by myself makes me anxious. I really don't know what to do. I only have a few days left to make a decision, so any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
  13. Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum and thought I'd post an introduction. There is much to tell, but I'll try to keep it as brief and relevant as possible to prevent boring you too much. I'm a male in my mid-twenties and have been suffering from depression and anxiety probably since before my first day at school. I have experienced relentless serious verbal and physical bullying for as long as I can remember, which I believe is a key cause of my issues along with an unstable childhood that involved lots of moving around and parents that constantly fought and threatened to divorce. More recently I also witnessed multiple traumatic events resulting in the deaths of other people and an animal that I was close to. After seeing a number of psychiatrists and psychologists I've been diagnosed with double depression (dysthimia + major depression), generalized anixety disorder, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. I think my symptoms are pretty typical: Periods of utter hopelessness, very little energy and motivation, trouble concentrating and thinking straight (especially in the presence of other people - it's like my social anxiety significantly reduces my IQ when in tense social situations), suicidal thoughts, trouble falling asleep followed by sleeping too much and then still feeling exhausted, underweight due to small appetite, inability to genuinely trust other people (due to past experiences, I fear being used or conned in some other way and/or being rejected), loneliness (not just feeling that way, but really having no close friends except my dog), low self-esteem, intense anxiety/panic attacks (I was hospitalized once because I thought I was having a heart attack, but it turned out to be very tensed up chest muscles due to anxiety), feeling different and inhuman, and probably many more that I can't think of right now. I'm finding it difficult to find a therapist that I can trust and who will genuinely help me. The first one I went to seemed more interested in my nationality than symptoms and told me that getting drunk at a bar with and laid by a young girl would probably solve my problems... I was totally stunned and didn't come to another appointment, reluctant to seek any more professional help because I thought it was all a joke. A few months later though I read in a newspaper that this "psychologist" was facing charges for fraud and faking his psychology degree (he has since been successfully convicted and jailed), so it encouraged me to give it another shot. I was referred to a psychiatrist who in turn referred me to a clinical psychologist who specialises in CBT. We also did work on my traumatic experiences by confronting the painful memories. While it helped me significantly, it still hasn't been enough to "cure" me. As a result I was put on some anti-depressants. The first few made me feel much worse, but when I was prescribed mirtazapine it seemed to have an immediate benefit, probably because it has a sedative side-effect and helped me sleep much better. After many months on it though, the sedative effect wore off and I went back to having sleeping problems, worsening my depression. Later some significant events in my life occured though where I finally got away from an abusive work environment and I was able to adopt the endless source of love and joy that is my dog, leaving me feeling much better. My psychiatrist saw me for brief 10-20 minutes every few months to check my progress, and he insisted that this improvement in my mood was because of a delayed effect of the antidepressant. It seemed to me that he was jumping to favourable conclusions about the treatment without even considering the effects of those other events. I felt that he wasn't taking me seriously. Soon after he suddenly announced that he was quitting his job and that I will be assigned a new therapist to take over. During the next appointment with the new therapist he revealed to me that the old one didn't even bother to leave him my file or any notes about my issues. After spending a few more hours going over my issues with this new therapist, again I felt like I wasn't taken seriously. I despaired and quit. About a year later I went to yet another psychiatrist who prescribed me all sorts of new medication without explaining any potential side effects. One of them made me very irritable, angry and aggressive. When I expressed concern to him about side effects, he laughed at me (he tried to unsuccessfully hide it) and dismissed my concerns as overly paranoid. Needless to say I haven't gone back to him either; My dog has been a vastly better therapist than any of them. I haven't been on any medication for a few months now and I think I'm sinking into deep depression again. Part of it may be that I was recently in a very one-sided "relationship" - It seems another person took advantage of my loneliness and merely used me. Sigh. I'm hoping I can learn something useful on this forum and share what I know with others to help make their lives better too. Looking forward to being able to join the live chat and perhaps even make some online friends. Thank you for having the patience to read this. :)
  14. Hello everyone I used to have a good job, nothing would faze me - now my cogs turn but the machinery doesn't engage. I feel like such a loser. I find my issues quite difficult to talk about, especially to those that I love. I want them to be happy and not weighed down by my pain. So I try to act ok when I am around them. I have been off work for nearly a year. A relocation triggered my PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Despite being on meds and having therapy (patronising), It feels like the filing cabinet in my head that holds all the neatly filed bad stuff has been tipped over and I am being swamped by the black greasy contents. During my illness and the time I have been off work I have withdrawn further into myself, I have barely left my home, I have no friends anymore - I think they mostly lost patience with me along the way. I am expected to return to work soon but am terrified of being around people and the noise. Too much Visual and sound stimulation makes me feel confused, dizzy and sick. People seem to think I will snap back to my old self as soon as I am back at my desk !! I don't wish to sound negative but from previous experience I know that is not going to happen. I am exhausted all the time and have no energy to do anything, my sleep is totally messed up. I dream about dying quite a bit - just letting go, drifting and accepting the peace that comes. With that being said I am not suicidal when awake, I have two kids who I love to bits and I would never leave them. I feel so tormented by my life -I feel I am responsible for everything that goes wrong. I feel like a bad mother and like I have let my boys down by being so weak and useless - one of the other posts talked the feeling of being behind glass - I have used that analogy myself - its so lonely behind the glass and watching other people 'living' makes me feel so sad. Hey all - sorry for rambling
  15. hi everyone im 36yrs old and have been suffering from depression since childhood. since my early 20's i have tried different ad's for my depression (effexor, paxil, prozac, zoloft, mirtazapine and wellbutrin). all of these kinda worked in the begining but quickly stopped and i was left feeling like a zombie and not giving a s**t about anything while on them. last june i made the decision to get off them permanately. i honestly feel that they have done more damage than good. my memory is completely ******. it's become harder for me to process things. it's extremely difficult for me to concentrate. i love to read but it's discouraging when you have to read a paragraph over and over in order to comprehend. i know that depression causes these symptoms but i truly believe that im also dealing with the long term side effects from these meds. in 2008 i had a major depressive breakdown that i don't think i come back from. i'm so tired of living with this i don't know what to do anymore. i started seeing a therapist in september and was diagnosed with ptsd from childhood abuse. going to therapy has been extremely difficult for me and i've returned to self injury. i guess i'm on here because i want to talk to people that understand what i'm going through. the realization of living with this for the rest of my life is something i cannot accept. knope23
  16. I went to see my psychiatrist again. This time we simply discussed my medication and the changes we are making to it, any side effects, and the reasons she is taking me off one of my meds. We also discussed the neurological benefits of meditation and excercise, which was interesting! I didn't know that excercise and meditation will help the brain to grow new neurons! We also discussed the positives I have been able to achieve since I talked to her, like walking and helping a friend. Towards the end of the appointment it dawned on me that we hadn't discussed any of the issues I am most concerned about, like the rapes I suffered and how they may have and still are effecting me. She said, "Let's wait." So, I have another appointment with her at the end of the month. In the meantime I'm supposed to continue to walk and focus on the positive things I am doing, and less on the negative, meditate, take care of my 'pretty skin' as she put it, and get adequate rest and eat right. Not discussing the major trauma's I've experienced in life made me actually think a little more about them. I don't like thinking about my rapes. I never charged either of the men, because one was my fiance at the time, and the other was a friend. The rape from my fiance I just put down to his overall abusive behaviour, and when I left him I figured that I was leaving the trauma behind, too. The rape by my friend was awful, and I as quickly as possible tried to forget it ever happened, push it out of my mind. However, I know that my denial that anything wrong had happened didn't serve me well in the long term. It has surely caused more psychological problems. I realize that any situation where I am approached while sleeping or alone and set upon by a sexual other, even if that person is liked or trusted by me, will illicit a traumatic response within. Even if that situation is only in a dream, I will still become traumatized. I didn't realize this was the case when in 2006 I had a dream about a mystery man who came to me while I was alone and minding my own business, and had his way with me. In the dream I was in love with this person, but awoke feeling extremely traumatized and confused. I always thought that was the beginning of my psychosis, just a random psychotic experience. But, now that I think about the dream in context of my rapes (which I have refused to think about), it makes sense why I would have had a reliving of my traumatic memories and emotions, as the situation in the dream mirrored the situations of my rapes. It's not easy to think about the rapes that occurred. I didn't want to think about them then, and I find it difficult to think about them now. But, I highly suspect that they have had a lasting and negative impact on my self-image, self-esteem, and my relationships with other people. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? This is something I want to discuss with the psychiatrist when I see her next. Until next time, gem
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