Category Archives: Ptsd/cptsd Articles

Abnormal Behaviours Arising when We’re Uncared For.

childhood_trauma_effects

Being cared for as an infant and child is clearly of fundamental importance to our survival. Because of this, humans have evolved, through Darwinian natural selection, forms of behaviour which help to elicit care from others, particularly, of course, from the primary care-giver (an obvious example is that of the baby who will scream and cry for the attentions of his/her mother).

childhood_trauma

If, later in life, we develop a psychiatric condition as a result of our poor care in childhood, this will tend to disrupt our lives; however, it may too carry with it what are known as ‘secondary gains’ which have the effect of encouraging others to care for us. Because of this, it has been hypothesized that some psychiatric conditions, particularly those which follow the collapse of important relationships, may develop, at least in part, due to an unconscious attempt by the sufferer to elicit some form of compensatory care from those around him/her.

Examples of such conditions include :

1) Neurotic depression

2) Parasuicide

3) Abnormal Illness Behaviour

4) Conversion Hysteria

5) Anorexia Nervosa

Let’s take a closer look at each of these in turn :

1) NEUROTIC DEPRESSION – this type of depression frequently follows the loss of an important supportive relationship and may include care-eliciting behaviours (eg crying). It is often the case that this will produce sympathy, concern and support from others (such as family and professionals) which can serve to reinforce the condition.

parasuicide

2) PARASUICIDE – this is attempted suicide which is non-fatal. Again, it often follows the ending of an important relationship. It is not necessarily a deliberate way of influencing others to provide emotional support, but in some cases there may have been an unconscious desire for the act not to be successful, resulting in a ‘half-hearted’ attempt. It is often called ‘a cry for help’, and this phrase was originally used by the psychologist Stengal in 1964.

It is important to point out, however, that many suicide attempts fail even when the person unambiguously wanted to end their own life – it must not be assumed, therefore, that a failed suicide attempt was intentionally unsuccessful.

3) ABNORMAL ILLNESS BEHAVIOUR – This was first described by the psychologist Pilowsky in 1969. It may manifest itself in the form of hypochondriasis or psychogenic pain, for example (psychogenic pain is pain which has no obvious physical cause but is generated by mental distress).

As with the previous conditions, ‘abnormal illness behaviour’ often follows interpersonal problems. It is particularly likely to occur when those close to the sufferer tend to treat him/her significantly better when s/he is unwell.

4) CONVERSION HYSTERIA – this condition was first proposed within the framework of psychodynamic theory. Essentially, it refers to the physical expression of of internal mental conflict and distress, frquently following on from the loss of emotional support.

It is thought to be especially likely to occur when the individual is restricted in his/her ability to express his/her inner mental turmoil through other channels (eg not skilled at articulating emotions and feelings).

Like the other three conditions already described, it often attracts the care and support of others.

5) ANOREXIA NERVOSA – Because the individual suffering from this condition refuses food/proper nutrition and may well become emaciated, it creates anxiety in  those close to the individual and is particularly likely to elicit care-giving from both them and from professionals. This can reinforce the symptoms.

 

RESOURCES :

www.minddisorders.com – Effects of Child Neglect – click here

 

EBOOKS :

 

effects_of_childhood_trauma_ebookbpd_ebook

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

PTSD – What Happens in the Brain?

childhood_trauma_effects

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the potentially devastating effects that may follow on from childhood trauma, and, in this context, the condition is frequently referred to as ‘complex PTSD.’ But what is actually happening inside of the brain in individuals who are suffering from this most serious condition?

To answer this question, it is necessary to look at two particular brain structures; these are :

1) THE AMYGDALA -this structure can be viewed as the brain’s ‘FEAR CENTRE’

2) THE HIPPOCAMPUS – this structure is able to activate/deactivate the amygdala

ptsd_biology_brain

Next, it is necessary to understand that :

under stress, the body produces two hormones called ADRENALINE and CORTISOL :

The functions of these two hormones are as follows:

– ADRENALINE – this produces physical responses to stress such as increased heart rate and sweating

– CORTISOL – this flows to the hippocampus and at first helps to lay down the memory of the trauma, but, in excessive quantities over sustained periods of time, it can damage the hippocampus, causing its cells to degenerate and, eventually, die. This process is called APOPTOSIS.

Indeed, if the traumatic experience is severe enough these biological changes in the brain (ie the excessive production of neurotoxins such as cortisol) can cause the hippocampus, in effect, to shut down.

This means it can no longer regulate or switch off the FEAR PRODUCING AMYGDALA,  causing the latter brain structure  to go into overdrive.

Thus, a situation arises in which the AMYGDALA BECOMES OVERACTIVE DUE TO THE UNDERACTIVITY OF THE HIPPOCAMPUS. Without proper intervention, this state of affairs may persist for many years.

The processes described above can lead to what has been called a TRAUMATIC CASCADE, causing the individual to feel a constant state of hyper-arousal, hyper-vigilance, anxiety and fear, perceiving danger, or the threat of danger, everywhere.

IMPLICATIONS FOR TREATMENT :

In such a poor and intensely painful emotional state, it is not possible for the individual to start properly processing, in a therapeutic manner, his/her experiences of trauma. This prevents the recovery process from getting underway.

In order to rectify this, a vital step, before therapeutic processing of traumatic experiences can begin, is to bring these constant feelings of fear and anxiety down to a level at which they are at least manageable. This may involve the prescribing of appropriate medication, behavioural techniques, or a combination of the two.

Indeed, studies involving both humans and animals have shown that such interventions can lead to the recovery of the hippocampus so that, once again, it may begin to regulate the amygdala as intended and alleviate excessive and superfluous feelings of fear and anxiety.

bpd_ebook  child_trauma_and_NEUROPLASTICITY, functional_and_structural_ neuroplasticity

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Effect of Early Trauma on Brain’s Right Hemisphere Development.

effect of childhood trauma on brain development

effect of childhood trauma on brain development

As recently as 25 years ago, it was still frequently believed that the structure of the brain had already been genetically determined at birth. Now, however, we of course know that this is absolutely NOT the case. Indeed, the experience, in early life, of trauma, abuse or neglect can have a profoundly adverse effect upon both the brain’s chemistry and its architecture (ie the way in which its physical structure develops).

The diagram below shows the human brain’s left and right hemispheres together with some of each hemisphere’s particular functions.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

effect of childhood trauma on brain development

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Studies on animals can help us to understand the effects of trauma on the developing human brain. For instance, if animals are subjected to inescapable stress they develop behaviours such as :

   – abnormal alarm states

   – acute sensitivity to stress

   – problems relating to both learning and memory

   – aggression

   – withdrawal

The symptoms listed above are, in fact, very similar to those displayed in humans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In both the cases of humans and of animals, investigations suggest that prolonged exposure to stress adversely affects a vital brain system ( the NORADRENERGIC BRAIN SYSTEM).

Indeed, in humans it has been found that even in adults (let alone children) just one exposure to severe trauma (eg a terrifying battle) can significantly alter an adult’s brain and lead to PTSD.

STUDIES ON EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA ON BRAIN :

Drissen et al (2000) found that those who had suffered severe childhood trauma had smaller volumes of two vital brain structures which play a role in stress management; the two structures physically affected by trauma were :

1) THE AMYGDALA

2) THE HIPPOCAMPUS

On average, those who had experienced severe childhood trauma were found to have :

  – amydallas which were 16% smaller than those who had not experienced significant trauma

   – hippocampuses which were 8% smaller than those who had not experienced significant childhood trauma.

Further research by Shore (2001) has shown that the brain’s right hemisphere (see diagram of the brain’s right and left hemispheres above), which has deep connections into the limbic and autonomic nervous systems, is impaired in terms of its ability to regulate these systems properly;  leading to profound difficulties managing stress  in those who had suffered serious childhood trauma.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Treatment for Trauma Related Nightmares

hypnotherapy for nightmares

treatment for nightmares

About 1 in 20 people suffer from nightmares. However, amongst those who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research indicates that this increases to approximately 70% – 95%. Those with PTSD may well also suffer from related psychological problems including intrusive memories, flashbacks and panic disorder.

Often, the content of the nightmare in those who suffer from PTSD will relate closely to the original trauma – resulting in a partial reliving of the experience/experiences. However, this is not always the case.

People who suffer from trauma related nightmares are more likely to have accompanying body movements (eg thrashing about – yes, that really does happen, as I can vouch for personally; it’s not just in the movies!) during their frightening dreams than those who have nightmares which are non-trauma related.

TREATMENT FOR PTSD RELATED NIGHTMARES :

The standard treatment for PTSD itself often improves nightmares. However, there is also a specific therapy available known as IMAGERY REHEARSAL THERAPY. This form of therapy involves the individual, under the guidance of the therapist, rehearsing content of the nightmare WHEN AWAKE repeatedly and changing the ending of the nightmare to make it less frightening.

More research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of drugs at reducing nightmares, but, to-date, the most promising drug for this treatment is called PRAZOSIN.

Also, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) have been shown in studies to be effective.

Some therapists claim to be able to help individuals who suffer from nightmares to turn these nightmares into what are known as LUCID DREAMS ( a lucid dream is a dream in which a person is aware s/he is dreaming and can exercise control over what happens in the dream. It is a genuine phenomenon; I know this because I have had about half-a-dozen such dreams in my life-time). However, more research needs to be conducted into this subject.

Finally, HYPNOTHERAPY and SELF-HYPNOSIS can be used to reduce and improve nightmares by helping with changing the dream content (see above) and helping the person transform the nightmare into a lucid dream (see above). More on this can be found in the paper : ‘Hypnotherapy for Sleep Disorders’ (Beng-Yeong Ng).

A hypnotherapy download for the treatment of nightmares can be found by clicking here, although it is not free of charge.

I hope you have found this post useful.

Disclaimer : Always seek medical advice before taking medication to treat nightmares.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Questionnaire

ptsd test

As we have seen in several of the previously published articles on this website (eg click here), severe childhood trauma can lead to the development of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you are concerned you might suffer from the condition, it is important to seek advice from a relevantly qualified mental health professional.

However, if you want to find out if you have symptoms which PTSD can cause, you may find it interesting and useful to look at the list of items below and count up how many apply to you. REMEMBER, THE TEST DOES NOT REPLACE A PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS.

SELF-REPORT POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) TEST :

(score 1 point for each item you answer YES to)

1) Have you been exposed to a traumatic event or events?

2) Did the trauma cause you to experience feelings of intense fear/ horror and powerlessness/impotence/helplessness

3) Does it sometimes feel as if you are reliving or re-experiencing the trauma (ie flashbacks)

4) Do you experience nightmares which are associated with the trauma that you experienced

5) Did the traumatic experience involve you witnessing serious injury/death or did it involve you being seriously injured/threatened with death?

6) Do you have thoughts or mental images related to the trauma which are intrusive, difficult to control and hard to dispel from the mind?

7) When something reminds you of the trauma, or you find thoughts about it intruding on your mind, does it cause serious distress?

8) Do you avoid things that remind you of the trauma? Examples include activities, people and places

9) Do you find you have less interest in activities that you used to enjoy?

10) Are you unable to remember something significant that occurred during the trauma (this is sometimes referred to as repression)

11) Do you try to avoid speaking about what happened during the trauma?

12) Do you find yourself more irritable than you were before the trauma occurred and that you get angry much more often?

13) Do you suffer from insomnia (such as finding it hard to get off to sleep and/or waking too early)?

14) Has your concentration become impaired since the trauma?

15) Do you find you no longer wish to interact with others as much as you did prior to the trauma and that you now have difficulty trusting other people?

16) Do you fear that, because of the trauma you suffered,  it will significantly, negatively impinge upon your future life in areas such as career, relationships and life span?

17) Has your ‘startle response’ become more sensitive since the trauma?

18) Have the symptoms that you’ve experienced since the trauma lasted for a minimum of one month so far?

19) Since the trauma, do you find it harder to feel emotions (eg feeling ‘numb’ for much of the time) and/or harder to display emotions to others?

20) Do you feel hypervigilant (ie feel as if you are constantly on ‘red alert’) for much of the time and constantly have a sense of impending disaster?

21) Have what used to be your everyday routines been disrupted by how you now feel (eg social life, work)?

A guide to interpreting your score :

0-3      It is not likely that you have PTSD

4-9      It is likely you have PTSD

10 +   It is very likely you have PTSD

DISCLAIMER – This does NOT provide you with a diagnosis, it is just a guide. If you suspect you have PTSD, or a related condition, you are strongly advised to seek the relevant professional advice.

 

 

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Top 10 Most Common Thoughts of Those with PTSD.

effect of PTSD on thinking

common thoughts of people with PTSD

One of the worst things about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be that we feel completely alone and cut off from the rest of society. We can feel that nobody else could possibly comprehend the intensity of our suffering. This is certainly what I felt when my depression and anxiety were at their worst – indeed, I felt like this for several years as all therapeutic interventions in the first few years of my condition failed.

When we are at our lowest, it can be helpful to remember that others are suffering as much as we are. In the case of PTSD, research has shown that sufferers tend to have the same kind of thoughts – I list the top ten below:

– I can’t trust people anymore

– Other people want to harm me and the world is a dangerous and  threatening place

– I am utterly helpless

– The reason I can’t cope is that I’m weak

– Something terrible is just about to happen

– I am completely unable to cope and this will never change

– It’s my fault that the trauma happened, I should have done something which would have prevented it

– From now on I can’t make a single mistake, if I do, it will be extremely dangerous to me

– I can never rely on anyone to protect me

– I will never recover from feeling this way

It should be noted that these thoughts could be operating beneath the level of conscious awareness – therapy can help expose these underlying core beliefs and help the individual to replace them with more positive ones; cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is often very effective in this regard. However, some people are uncertain whether or not to seek such therapy (many are available in addition to CBT). As a general guide, it is probably best to seek professional help if you are suffering from symptoms such as those described below:

One of the main questions to ask is:

– Are my symptoms interfering with my social, occupational or academic functioning?

If this is the case, it is definitely advisable to seek expert advice on what kind of therapy may ameliorate your symptoms. Even just talking to someone about the traumatic experience/s can be of value. Specific symptoms that can be addressed through various types of therapy include :

– poor sleep/insomnia

– the development of a harmful dependence on alcohol and/or drugs

– intrusive and distressing nightmares, memories or flashbacks

– constantly feeling agitated and irritable

– difficulty responding on an emotional level  to family/partner

Professional support is particularly advisable for those who are socially isolated and/or have nobody else to talk to about their traumatic experiences.

I hope you have found this post helpful.

Best Wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

PTSD – 3 Steps to Mastering its Effects.

dealing with ptsd

childhood trauma and ptsd

After severe trauma and the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one of the main symptoms the sufferer has to contend with often things which, in themselves, are not at all threatening can strike terror into the heart of the individual as, in his/her own mind, they are connected to, and re-trigger responses to, the original trauma. Psychologists often refer to this process as fear conditioning.

In normal circumstances, when a person learns to be afraid of something through the process of fear conditions, as time goes on the fear will become less intense and fade away. In psychological terminology, the fear gradually becomes extinguished. However, research by the psychologist Charney reveals that in those affected by PTSD, the necessary learning process required to extinguish the fear does not occur. This results in disturbing memories relating to the trauma persisting, in the absence of treatment for many, many years.

However, if the person affected by PTSD undergoes the right experiences in a treatment program, these disturbing memories CAN be made to loosen their grip upon the individual and become manageable, as, indeed, can the thought processes and reactions that these memories trigger.

In terms of brain activity, the fear generated by the brain structure known as the AMYGDALA can be suppressed by greater activity being generated in another brain structure known as the PREFRONTAL CORTEX. How therapy makes this happen I describe below :

Even the symptoms caused by the most severe trauma imaginable can be overcome (incredibly, studies have revealed even Holocaust survivors have recovered from the PTSD caused by their horrific experiences). The key to recovery appears to be by undergoing a process of relearning.

Dr Judith Herman, an expert in the field of trauma recovery, from Harvard University in the USA, suggests that there are three key phases of recovery. These are ;

1) attaining a sense of safety

2) remembering the details of the trauma and mourning the losses that have occurred because of it

3) re-establishing a normal life

Let’s look at each of these steps in turn :

STEP 1 – ATTAINING A SENSE OF SAFETY : this involves aiding the patient in the understanding that his/her feelings of intense anxiety, fear, nightmares, panic, terror etc are due to the condition s/he is suffering, namely PTSD, and are occurring due to brain dysfunction (which can be treated) rather than because there is any real, present threat or danger. By getting the PTSD sufferer to view his/her symptoms from this angle, these symptoms become less frightening.

Also during this initial step, the therapist can help the PTSD sufferer see that although s/he feels helpless (feeling helpless is one of the main symptoms of PTSD), this is not the case (for example, s/he has already started to take control by seeking therapy for the PTSD).

Furthermore, during this first stage of attaining a greater sense of safety and calm, there is the option of medication for symptoms such as intense anxiety and nightmares. Antidepressants which act on the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain are one option. A second option is the beta-blocker PROPRANOPOL (I was prescribed this drug and still take it; I have definitely found it to be helpful) which reduces activity in the sympathetic nervous system and reduces agitation; new research on the latter drug is giving very encouraging results.

There is also the option of teaching the PTSD sufferer relaxation techniques such as meditation and self-hypnosis.

STEP 2 – REMEMBERING THE DETAILS OF THE TRAUMA AND MOURNING THE LOSSES WHICH HAVE OCCURRED BECAUSE OF IT : once a relatively calm state and greater sense of safety and security has been attained by the individual suffering from PTSD, the second stage of the therapy can be implemented; this involves RETELLING and RESTRUCTURING the story of the trauma in a SAFE and SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT. In this way, the brain’s emotional circuits develop a more realistic comprehension and response to the traumatic memory, and, also, those things that trigger the traumatic memory.

Indeed, the retelling of the trauma in a safe environment when the PTSD sufferer is relatively calm starts to change the memory itself in terms of both its emotional meaning, and, also, therefore, in terms of its effects upon the emotional brain (ie it starts to give rise to LESS distress and anxiety).

In essence, the emotional response to the trauma is RELEARNED.

The therapist encourages the PTSD sufferer to describe the traumatic memory, however horrible, in as much detail as possible and also to describe in detail the feelings that the trauma evoked. The aim is to is to encapsulate, as far as possible, the whole traumatic episode/s in words.

Why is this important? It is thought that this process of capturing what happened in words places the memory more under control of a brain structure called the NEOCORTEX; this makes the reactions the memories lead to more manageable.

Because this all takes place in a safe environment, the PTSD sufferer is able to start to associate the traumatic memory with feelings of safety and relative calm as opposed to terror.

Once this has been achieved the therapist encourages the individual to mourn what the trauma and resultant PTSD caused him/her to lose. This mourning of what has been lost marks the ability to start to let go of the trauma itself.

– STEP 3 RE-ETABLISHING A NORMAL LIFE : this final stage can now take place, in which the individual can begin to rebuild his/her life. Physiological symptoms drop to a manageable level as do feelings connected with the memory of the trauma.

I hope you have found this post helpful.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Does PTSD Develop?

causes of ptsd

childhood trauma and ptsd

WHAT IS THE DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESS OF POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)?

The psychologists Foa et al developed the following model to illustrate the psychological process through which PTSD develops.

When a person experiences something which is very traumatic the memory becomes enmeshed into the brain’s circuitry – in essence, a FEAR STRUCTURE becomes incorporated into the brain.

THE FEAR STRUCTURE can be divided into 3 individual units. These are as follows :

a) STIMULI of the trauma. This refers to things which my trigger memories of the trauma. Stimuli my gain access to the brain via any of the 5 senses (ie sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch). To use a simple example, someone traumatized by being injured in an explosion in a war may have the trauma response triggered by loud bangs such as fireworks going off (the loud bang being the stimuli).

b) RESPONSES to the traumatic event. This includes both physiological responses (eg racing pulse, hyperventilation) and psychological responses (such as a feeling of terror).

c) MEANINGS ATTRIBUTED TO THE STIMULI AND RESPONSES (eg this means I must be in great danger).

When somebody suffering from PTSD experiences an event which triggers the original memory of trauma, laid down in the brains circuitry, they feel intense distress. Typically, in response to this distress, they will take evasive action (ie try to evade, or get away from, the event which is triggering the traumatic response). It is the meaning aspect of the fear structure ( c, above) which creates the most anguish. The problem lies in the fact that they find it exceptionally difficult to reconcile their old (pre-trauma) beliefs about events and their new (post trauma) beliefs about events (doing this successfully, which therapy can help them, eventually, to do, is known as the PROCESS OF ACCOMMODATION).

An example of pre- and post- traumatic beliefs, which, if the process of accommodation has not taken place, would be in opposition with one another are :

PRE-TRAUMA – the world is a pretty safe place in which I can generally feel relaxed in

POST-TRAUMA – the world is very dangerous and unpredictable and I must always be on my guard against threats which seem to be coming at me from every direction (at worst, leading to clinical paranoia)

COMPULSION TO MAKE SENSE OF THE TRAUMATIC BELIEF

The individual who suffers from PTSD will often try , obsessively, to make sense of the traumatic event which occurred to him/her. This arises because s/he finds it impossible to square what has occurred with pre-trauma beliefs.

THE DEEP PSYCHOLOGICAL PAIN OF TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THE TRAUMATIC EVENT

Whilst the individual suffering from PTSD feels driven to make sense of the trauma, constantly thinking about it creates feelings which are both terrifying and overwhelming. THIS CREATES A TERRIBLE PSYCHOLOGICAL TENSION IN THE MIND – there is the PULL TOWARDS ATTEMPTING TO MAKE SENSE OF WHAT HAPPENED ON THE ONE HAND, BUT ALSO THE PULL OF TRYING TO STOP THINKING ABOUT IT ON THE OTHER.

Foa and her colleagues have put forward the theory that it is the tension, created by having one’s thoughts pulled powerfully in two directly opposing directions, which leads to the extreme HYPERAROUSAL (intense anxiety).

The two opposing views of the world the individual tries desperately to fit together (‘safe world’ versus’ unsafe world’) is rather like trying to FIT TWO PIECES OF JIGSAW TOGETHER, ONE OF WHICH HAS BEEN DAMAGED, SO IT NO LONGER FITS.

Therapy can lead to a resolution of this dilemma, leading to a compromise belief, linked to the two opposing beliefs, such as :

THE WORLD IS GENERALLY SAFE FOR ME BUT NOBODY HAS A COMPLETE GUARANTEE, OCCASIONALLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

TREATMENTS :

COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY IS AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR THE EFFECTS OF TRAUMA – there is a lot of research evidence to support this.

Also, hypnotherapy can provide relief from many of the symptoms of trauma (eg anxiety, fear etc).

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HYPNOSIS, HERE IS A LINK TO A RECOMMENDED HYPNOTHERAPY BLOG TO WHICH THIS SITE IS AFFILIATED : http://www.hypnosisdownloads.com/blog/feed/?a=5719!blog

I hope you have found this post of use.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons ; MSC ; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (with Questionnaire).

 

complex post traumatic stress disorder questionnaire

Survivors of extreme trauma often suffer persistent anxiety, phobias, panic, depression, identity and relationship problems. Many times, the set of symptoms the individual presents with are not connected to the original trauma by those providing treatment (as certainly was the case for me in the early years of my treatment, necessitating me to undertake my own extensive research, of which this blog is partly a result) and, of course, treatment will not be forthcoming if the survivor suffers in silence.

Any treatment not linked to the original trauma will tend to be ineffective as THE UNDERLYING TRAUMA IS NOT BEING ADDRESSED. Also, there is a danger that a wrong diagnosis may be given; possibly the diagnosis will be one that may be interpreted, by the individual given it, as perjorative (such as a personality disorder).

ptsd

Individuals who have survived protracted and severe childhood trauma often present with a very complex set of symptoms and have developed, as a result of their unpleasant experiences, deep rooted problems affecting their personality and how they relate to others. The psychologist, Kolb, has noted that the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms survivors of severe maltreatment in childhood might develop ‘may appear to mimic every personality disorder’ and that ‘severe personality disorganization’ can emerge.

Another psychologist, Lenore Terr, has differentiated between two specific types of trauma: TYPE 1 and TYPE2. TYPE 1 refers to symptoms resulting from a single trauma; TYPE 2 refers to symptoms resulting from protracted and recurring trauma, the hallmarks of which are:

– emotional numbing
– dissociation
– cycling between passivity and explosions of rage

This second type of trauma response has been referred to as COMPLEX POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (CPTSD) and more research needs to be conducted on it; however, an initial questionnaire to help in its diagnosis has been developed and I reproduce it below:

CPTSD QUESTIONNAIRE

1) A history of, for example, severe childhood trauma

2) Alterations in affect regulation, including
– persistent dysphoria
– chronic suicidal preoccupation
– self-injury
– explosive or extremely inhibited anger (may alternate)
– compulsive or extremely inhibited sexuality (may alternate)

3) Alterations in consciousness, including
– amnesia or hypernesia for traumatic events
– transient dissociative episodes
– depersonalization/derealization
– reliving experiences, either in the form of intrusive post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms or in the form of ruminative preoccupation

4) Alterations in self-perception, including
– a sense of helplessness or paralysis of initiative
– shame, guilt and self-blame
– sense of defilement or stigma
– sense of complete difference from others (may include sense of specialness, utter aloneness, belief no other person can understand, or nonhuman identity)

5) Alterations in perceptions of perpetrator, including

– preoccupation with relationship with perpetrator (includes preoccupation with revenge)
– unrealistic attribution of total power to perpetrator (although the perpetrator may have more power than the clinician treating the individual is aware of)
– idealization or paradoxical gratitude
– sense of special or supernatural relationship
– acceptance of belief system or rationalizations of perpetrator

6) Alterations in relations with others, including

– isolation and withdrawal
– disruption in intimate relationships
– repeated search for rescuer (may alternate with isolation and withdrawal)
– persistent distrust
– repeated failures of self-protection

7) Alterations in systems of meaning
– loss of sustaining faith
– sense of hopelessness and despair

Anyone who feels their condition may be reflected by the above is urged to seek professional intervention at the earliest opportunity.

RESOURCES :


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Above eBook, Childhood Trauma And Its Link To CPTSD, now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Exciting Early Research Findings on the Medication Propranolol’s (a Beta-Blocker) Effectiveness for Treating Symptoms of Trauma.

propranolol

Recent Studies On Propranolol :

Recent studies on the beneficial effects of the beta-blocker medication PROPRANOLOL on REDUCING THE ADVERSE SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMA are very encouraging and exciting.

One study, by Dr Roger Pitman, involving 22 patients, found that anxiety associated with trauma was greatly reduced in those patients given the drug compared with those who were not given it.

In another study, conducted in France, it was found that anxiety in patients suffering the effects of trauma was halved compared to those patients to whom the drug was not administered.

HOW IS THE BETA-BLOCKER PROPRANOLOL THOUGHT TO WORK?

What is particularly exciting about this drug is that it is thought to actually WEAKEN THE NEURAL MEMORY TRACE OF THE MEMORY ITSELF.

The drug blocks beta receptors in the brain, reducing the effects of adrenaline on neurons (neurons are brain cells).

The drug works on the SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM which has the effect of reducing physiological symptoms associated with anxiety such as a pounding, racing heart and rapid, shallow breathing (also known as hyperventilation).

Individuals suffering from the effects of trauma often report having vivid and intense memories of the traumatic event/s. It is thought that the drug addresses this problem by acting on the memory trace, causing it to fade away and decay normally, thus greatly weakening its grip on the individual and ameliorating symptoms of anxiety.

One study has even demonstrated that just a single dose of propranolol, in certain, specific cases, can be of benefit (although it is usually prescribed over the long-term).

FURTHER RESEARCH:

As stated above, research into the uses of this drug to treat the effects of trauma is at an early stage; more studies are being conducted. It should be pointed out, though, that the drug is not effective in every case.

Anyone considering taking the medication should discuss it with their doctor.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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