Tag Archives: Child Abuse Symptoms

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children (0-6 Years)?

 

The possible effects of childhood trauma on children under the age of six years are extensive and can be divided into three main categories. These three categories are as follows :
  • BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
  • COGNITIVE EFFECTS (i.e. effects on thinking and conscious mental processes)
  • PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS (i.e. effects on physical health and biological processes)

Below, I list the possible effects of being exposed to prolonged and significant trauma on young children :

A) FROM 0 YEARS OLD TO TWO YEARS OLD 

B) FROM THREE YEARS OLD TO SIX YEARS OLD 

 

A) POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AGED 0 TO 2 YEARS :

 

BEHAVIORAL :

Aggression

Regressive behavior

Extreme temper tantrums

Fear of adults connected to the traumatic experiences

Fear of separation from the parent / primary caregiver (see my article about separation anxiety)

Irritability

Anxiety

Sadness

Withdrawn behavior

Highly sensitive ‘startle response’

Prone to excessive screaming and crying

COGNITIVE :

Memory impairment

Impairment of verbal skills

PHYSIOLOGICAL :

Sleep problems

Nightmares

Reduced appetite

Low weight

Problems with digestive system

B) POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AGED 3 TO 6 YEARS :

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children?

BEHAVIORAL :

Aggression

Regressive behavior

Extreme temper tantrums

Fear of adults connected to the traumatic experiences

Fear of separation from the parent / primary caregiver (see my article about separation anxiety)

Irritability

Anxiety

Sadness

Withdrawn behavior

Highly sensitive ‘startle response’

Low self-confidence

Anxiety / Fearfulness

Avoidant behavior

Difficulty placing trust in others

Difficulties making friends

Self-blame in relation to traumatic experiences (e.g. blaming self for parental separation or believing physical abuse ‘deserved’ for being a bad person‘)

Acting out

Imitating the abusive behavior suffered (e.g. by bullying school peers)

Reenacting traumatic event

Verbal aggression

COGNITIVE :

Memory impairment

Impairment of verbal skills

Problems with concentration and associated problems with learning

PHYSIOLOGICAL :

Sleep problems

Nightmares

Psychosomatic complaints such as headaches and stomach aches

Regressive behavior  (i.e. behaving in ways associated with an earlier period of development such as stress-related bed-wetting)

 

Read my associated article :

Signs An Adult Was Abused As A Child – click here.

 

eBooks :

emotional abuse book   childhood trauma damages brain ebook   effects of childhood trauma   

Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here for further details and to view other available titles.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addressing The Effects Of Childhood Trauma With Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Part 2

dialectical behavior therapy

In part 1, I introduced the new and promising therapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT); as I said, there is growing evidence that it is a very effective treatment for conditions which may arise as a consequence of an individual having suffered childhood trauma (especially those who have developed borderline personality disorder -BPD).

As a quick reminder, five key skills which DBT endeavours to teach those who choose to undergo the therapy are:

1) CORE MINDFULNESS
2) TAKING THE ‘MIDDLE PATH’
3) DISTRESS TOLERANCE
4) EMOTIONAL REGULATION
5) INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS

dialectic behavioral therapy

In part one I covered 1 and 2 above. It seems quite logical then (!) that I should, in this post, move on to look at number 3 – DISTRESS TOLERANCE:

3) DISTRESS TOLERANCE

Practitioners of DBT try to instil the view in their clients that sometimes it is easier, and psychologically healthier, to stop struggling against reality, and,(they tell us) we need to accept that we, nor anybody else, for that matter, can prevent painful events from occurring in life (sometimes extremely painful ones, if we’re going to be up-front about it), nor can the painful emotions they bring with them. It is hardly a new idea, but practitioners of DBT also remind us that some painful things in life cannot be changed and that the only viable option we really have, therefore, is to accept the fact. This, of course, is difficult and requires considerable inner strength. By accepting the things which cannot be changed, though, it is reasoned, we free up energy which could have been wasted (by, say, being angry and bitter about the existence of these unchangeable facts) to deal with what CAN BE CHANGED.

DBT therapists tell us that there are certain skills we may wish to develop which will INCREASE OUR ABILITY TO TOLERATE DISTRESS; these are:

a) distraction/improving the moment
b) self-soothing
c) considering pros and cons of the situation
d) radical acceptance

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

a) distraction/improving the moment – eg distracting ourselves with activities we enjoy, keeping our minds busy ; reminding ourselves of the good things in life ; reminding ourselves that it is better to think clearly and in a focused way about our problems ‘after the storm has passed’ (rather than try to make decisions when in the middle of an intense crisis which may be over-determined by our emotions) ; remind ourselves that difficult periods will pass

b) self-soothing – eg we can use postive self-talk (see my posts on cognitive behavior therapy for more on this – to access the posts just type ‘CBT’ into this site’s search facility) ; meditation/relaxation activities/breathing exercises ; using our imaginations to recall a soothing and comforting memory or place (if recalling a place it can be helpful to imagine, for a while, actually being there) ; thinking of things in life which are meaningful to us and give us the motivation to get through the difficult period.

c) considering the pros and cons of the situation : eg we may wish to consider how getting through a very difficult period may benefit us – for example, we may learn from it, it may strengthen us, it may make us more compassionate and sensitive towards others, we may be able to pass on the benefit of our experience to help others, it may even open up completely unexpected avenues in life which may not otherwise have been available to us (bad events do sometimes lead to positive outcomes, however indirectly – it is often worth keeping that in mind).

d) radical acceptance : this might involve trying to view what is happening, however undesirable, from as objective and detached a perspective as possible – a bit like watching the events unfold around somebody else in a movie ; another, perhaps surprising, technique suggested by DBT therapists is to try to, literally, half-smile. This sounds strange and even rather silly, but research shows that just as the mind can affect the body (eg thinking about something embarrassing and going red in the face) so too can the body effect the mind – in this case, the idea is that the half-smile ‘fools’ the brain into ‘believing’ things aren’t as bad as all that. It is obvious, however, that in certain situations this technique would be highly inappropriate (I need hardly list examples).

4) EMOTIONAL REGULATION :

The fourth skill that DBT teaches is how to cope with intense and overwhelming emotions – this skill is referred to by practitioners of DBT as emotional regulation.

This skill is made up of three sub-skills : a) increasing one’s understanding of one’s emotions; b) decreasing one’s emotional vulnerability; c) lessening the degree of distress caused by one’s negative emotions.

5) INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS

The final skill of interpersonal effectiveness helps the person undertaking DBT to communicate with others effectively when interacting with others in a way that helps to improve his/her relationships.

In order to achieve this, s/he is helped to communicate with others in a more controlled manner and to be less prone to speaking impulsively and without forethought due stress or overwhelming emotions (such as anger).

RESOURCE :
control your emotionsCONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS PACK – click here for further details :

 

DBT TRAINING MANUAL :

 

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

 

Brain Differences in Severe Anxiety Sufferers and Pros and Cons of Various Medications

childhood_trauma_effects

There has now been a very significant amount of research undertaken by neuroscientists and other professionals connected to the study of psychology into whether those of us who are severely afflicted by anxiety conditions have differences in our brains in comparison to those lucky enough to have normal anxiety responses (when the anxiety response is normal, it is an adaptive, self-protecting and helpful mechanism eg deterring individuals from taking unnecessary risks).

Researchers have, in particular, focused upon:

1) differences in the brain’s biochemistry

2) differences in brain structures.

Let’s look at these two important areas of research:

1) DIFFERENCES IN THE BRAIN’S BIOCHEMISTRY:

a) Research has shown that individuals who suffer from anxiety are often likely to have insufficient quantities of the brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) called SEROTONIN. Serotonin is intimately related to the human functions of appetite, mood, sleep and memory (all of which are often affected by anxiety eg the mind ‘going blank’ when experiencing high stress, losing one’s appetite, insomnia, becoming irritable/aggressive etc).

b) Research has also focused on an AMINO ACID in the brain abbreviated to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid, for those who are interested). As with serotonin, studies suggest that those who suffer anxiety are deficient, too, in this. Abnormally low quantities of GABA in the brain are believed to be associated with:

– racing thoughts
– restlessness
– agitation
– insomnia

Because of these findings, it has been theorized that medications which help resolve these biological abnormalities will, in turn, alleviate the anxiety with which they are associated (I’ll turn to look at the pros and cons of medications in the next but one paragraph).

2) DIFFERENCES IN BRAIN STRUCTURE:

Cutting-edge brain imaging techniques have revealed that the brain structure known as the HIPPOCAMPUS, which is associated with processing memories and emotions, CAN BE UP TO 25% SMALLER in individuals who have undergone extreme childhood trauma. It has been theorized that this is why those who have experienced such trauma find it extremely difficult to REGULATE (control) POWERFUL AND OVERWHELMING EMOTIONS, and, also, why they often experience FLASHBACKS and FRAGMENTED MEMORIES.

GIVEN THE ABOVE, IS MEDICATION USEFUL IN TREATING ANXIETY?

Many different types of drugs are used in an attempt to treat anxiety and people’s subjective responses to their effectiveness (or otherwise) vary dramatically. Different medications are given for different types of anxiety disorder.

Below are listed the main drugs prescribed for the treatment ofanxiety, together with the most commonly reported pros and cons of each:

A) SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) ANTIDEPRESSANTS: eg Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox

PROS: – reported effectivess by many (but see my post on the placebo effect)
– not addictive

CONS: – take 2-6 weeks to work
– can, at first, WORSEN ANXIETY
– can produce initial side-effects eg headache, insomnia, sweating, headache, loss of sex drive, impotence (temporary but sometimes ongoing for as long as the drugs are taken).

B) BENZODIAZEPINES: eg Valium, Librium, Ativan

PROS: – immediate effect
– initial help with insomnia

CONS: – can lead to subjective feelings of over-medication or ‘mental fogginess’
– danger of addiction (psychological and physiological)
– some of the benzodiazepines (those that are ‘short-term acting’) can lead to withdrawal effects (eg seizure) if stopped suddenly after several months; very rarely, this can be life-threatening

C) BETA-BLOCKERS: eg Inderal

PROS: – good for reducing the physiological effects of anxiety, eg racing heart, sweating, hyperventilation, shaking. They have also been found useful for those who suffer from performance anxiety, such as fear of public speaking

CONS: – effects very short lived
– if the heart rate is slowed too much this can be problematic

D) BUSPAR:

PROS: – not addictive
– can help to counteract any adverse effects antidepressants have had upon sexual functioning

CONS: – fewer people report a positive effect in comparison with those who take benzodiazepines
– can take 3 to 4 weeks to work

E) ANTIHISTAMINES: -eg Vistaril

PROS: – these can have a sedative effect
– non-addictive

CONS: – less effective, reportedly, than other anti-anxiety medications
– side-effects( which include dry mouth and urinary retention).

F) ANTICONVULSANTS: -Neurontin

PROS: – reported to have calming effect
– reported to improve sleep

CONS: – side-effects (including feelings of sleepiness, dizziness and ‘mental fogginess’).

It is, of course, imperarative to seek medical advice for anyone considering taking such medications.

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Above eBooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. $4.99 each (except for Workbook, priced at $9.79). CLICK HERE.

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