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Tag Archives: Depression

Postpartum Depression And Childhood Trauma

postpartum_depression

childhood-trauma-recovery

A study conducted by Choi et al., (2017) suggests that women who have suffered from traumatic childhoods are at higher risk than average of suffering from postpartum depression.

 

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (also called postnatal depression) is a sub-type of depression which occurs within twelve months of the baby’s birth and affects over 10 per cent of women (it can also affect the father / partner, although this is rarer).

Symptoms may include :

  • feeling one cannot care for the baby adequately
  • frustration, anger and irritability
  • feelings of guilt / shame
  • feelings of emptiness
  • problems bonding with baby
  • anxiety and sadness
  • anhedonia
  • decreased or increased appetite
  • insomnia
  • social withdrawal
  • poor self-care
  • fear of hurting self, partner or baby
  • impaired ability to make decisions
  • extreme fatigue / lethargy

N.B. The above list is not exhaustive

 

The Study :

The study involved one hundred and fifty adult, female participants, each of whom provided self-reports about :

  • whether they had suffered childhood trauma
  • whether they had suffered postpartum depression during the first six months following the birth of their child

Also measured, a year after the birth of the baby, were :

  • the quality of mother / infant bonding
  • infant development
  • the physical growth of the infant

mother-and-baby-jpg

 

RESULTS OF THE STUDY :

The main findings of the study were as follows :

  • those women who had experienced childhood trauma had significantly greater symptoms of depression in the six months following the birth of the baby compared to those women who took part in the study and had not experienced childhood trauma
  • one year after the women had given birth to the child those women who had developed postpartum depression, on average, bonded significantly less well with their babies compared to the group of women who had not developed postpartum depression
  • one year after the women had given birth to the child those children born to the women who had suffered postpartum depression were, on average, significantly less well physically developed than the infants of the women who had not developed postpartum depression

From these findings the researchers concluded that those women who had suffered childhood trauma were more likely to suffer postpartum depression which, in turn, increased risk of impaired mother-infant bonding and sub-optimal physical development of their children.

 

CONCLUSION :

The researchers concluded that perinatal care should address both maternal histories of childhood trauma as well as depressive symptoms.

It should also be noted that, as well as stressful life events potentially contributing to the development of postpartum depression, genetics and hormonal changes may well also play a part ; more research is needed.

 

RESOURCE :

 

Overcome Postnatal Depression | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

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

 

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Effects of Childhood Trauma – Alexithymia, Depression and Binge Eating

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One possible effect of significant childhood trauma, according to recent research, is a condition known as ALEXITHYMIA ; it is closely linked to clinical depression and eating disorders.

Let’s look at the main symptoms of alexithymia. According to Taylor et al, 1990, they are as follows:

1) Problems identifying one’s own emotions and those of other people

2) Problems describing own emotions and those of other people

3) Problems differentiating between one’s feelings and the physical/bodily sensations of emotional arousal

4) Impoverished skills of mental imagination

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DISCONNECTED FROM FEELINGS :

Those with the condition can feel very disconnected from their feelings (or may confuse their feelings with physical problems – see symptoms above) and this state of affairs often begins in childhood

RECONNECTING WITH FEELINGS :

Whilst it is possible to reconnect with one’s feelings, some people who suffer from alexithymia are resistant to the idea of doing this. This may be because they feel that a state of emotional numbness protects them and that if they allow themselves to have authentic feelings again they will be overwhelmed.

In other words, the idea of reconnecting with their feelings makes the person feel vulnerable and threatened. S/he may equate having feelings with a sign of weakness.

CHILDHOOD :

Such ideas are generally learned in childhood. This may be because the sufferer of alexithymia had a powerful role model who denied and suppressed/repressed his/her own feelings, so the sufferer never learned to be ‘in touch’ and ‘tuned in’ to his/her feelings nor how to express and manage them in a healthy way.

UNRESOLVED ISSUES :

Individuals with alexithymia are very likely to have issues from their childhood that remain unresolved and, also, to have feelings connected those issues which remain unexpressed. IT IS LIKELY THAT THE INDIVIDUAL IS REPRESSING (banishing from his/her conscious awareness – an automatic psychological defence mechanism) MUCH EMOTIONAL PAIN AND ANGUISH ASSOCIATED WITH SIGNIFICANT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.

HIGH ADULT SUSCEPTIBILITY TO ADVERSE EFFECTS OF STRESS :

As an adult, people with alexithymia may well find that they are acutely sensitive to the effects of stress and are therefore more likely to be ‘tipped over the edge’ by problems and difficulties that better emotionally adjusted people may regard as easy to cope with.

Because the sufferer of alexithymia is unconsciously dealing with so much stress anyway (repressing emotional pain is mentally exhausting) s/he has a low level of resources available to cope with any more; his/her stress tolerance is low, and mental resources to deal with it are quickly overloaded, even by demands others may view as trivial.

ALEXITHYMIA AND EATING DISORDERS:

Research into alexithymia also suggests it is connected to eating disorders. Because the sufferer’s ability to cope with day-to-day life is significantly impaired, s/he may comfort/binge eat as a way of trying to improve mood/reduce feelings of stress.

Like other potentially damaging coping strategies, (eg excessive drinking, gambling, over-spending, drug taking etc) whilst this might provide some short-term relief, it’s long-term effects are most unhelpful.

Instead, addressing the underlying problem through therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) should be strongly considered.

 

Stop Binge Eating | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

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

 

 

 

 

Childhood Trauma: Food and Nutrition which may Help with Resultant Depression.

depression and nutrition

Due to the side-effects associated with anti-depressants, together with the controversy which surrounds their effectivenes, some individuals prefer to try to treat their depression in more natural ways; in relation to this, many people adjust their intake of nutrients in ways which research suggests may lift their mood. I examine the foods and nutients which may help this goal to be achieved below:

FOODS AND NUTRIENTS WHICH MAY HELP TO LIFT MOOD :

Not only does some research suggest that the foods and nutrients listed below may help lift mood when depressed, it suggests they may also make depression less likely to recur once feeling better:

1) SELENIUM : this can be found in oysters, mushrooms and Brazil nuts

2) CHROMIUM : this can be found in turkey and green vegetables

3) ZINC : this can be found in shellfish, seafood and eggs

All of the above nutients can also be bought in supplement form from chemists and health food shops. However, they should not be taken in large doses so be sure to read the relevant labels to obtain the recommended amounts to take.

4) VITAMIN B12 : this vitamin, which can also be bought as a supplement from health shops and chemists, is thought to help maintain general mental alertness and, also, help keep feelings of depression at bay. It can be found in salmon, meat, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and yeast extract.

FISH

Some scientists recommend eating fish as a way of reducing depressive symptoms. The reason for this is that some research studies have provided evidence that FISH OILS have both an ANTI-DEPRESSANT and MOOD-STABILIZING effect. However, because of the amount of fish oil which needs to be ingested, one would have to consume a vast quantity of fish. In order to rectify this problem, many companies now produce FISH OIL CAPSULES (eg OMEGA – 3) as dietry SUPPLEMENTS. These contain very concentrated fish oil. However, more research needs to be conducted in order to come to a definitive verdict on their effectiveness. One benefit of them, however, is that they have no side-effects, apart from, rarely, a mildly upset stomach.

5-HTP

Otherwise known as HYDROXTRYPTOPHAN. The body manufactures this from tryptophan (an AMINO ACID) in the diet (sources include turkey and bananas) and it is linked to the production of SEROTONIN (a neurotransmitter which I discuss in other posts – please enter ‘SEROTONIN’ into this site’s search facility if you wish to access those posts) in the brain. Depleted serotonin levels in the brain are thought to be connected with depression and insomnia. Indeed, taking supplements of 5-HTP has been linked to not only helping to treat depression and insomnia, but, also, obesity.

The Cochrane Review (2001) found two studies suggesting that 5-HTP was more effective at treating depression than placebos, but, also, concluded that more research needed to be conducted in order to reach a proper conclusion in relation to how beneficial it is.

CONCLUSION:

A lot more research needs to be conducted in order to come to any definitive solutions about just how helpful diet, nutrients and supplements are at treating mental health conditions. However, there is a vast number of people who take them and are convinced of their effectiveness.

Finally, I wish to stress that it is extremely important to speak to a doctor if you are considering coming off any prescribed medication.

 

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

Serotonin And Childhood Trauma

As we have seen from other articles that I have previously published on this site, neurological problems resulting from childhood trauma can be reversed, and it is to the research into this exciting and fast developing area of study that I now turn.

Studies have shown that because SEROTONIN (a chemical, also known as a neurotransmitter, in the brain) can become depleted by childhood trauma, ANTI-DEPRESSANTS (for example, Setraline) which increase the availability of serotonin in the brain can help to REVERSE the harmful effects of childhood trauma on it.

However, the beneficial effects of anti-depressant treatment is greatly increased if, in addition, the childhood trauma survivor’s ENVIRONMENT is also significantly improved, providing as many positive experiences as possible. Indeed, positive experiences can BENEFICIALLY AFFECT BRAIN CHEMISTRY (for example,  by increasing the availability of serotonin and other important neurotransmitters in the brain), just as anti-depressants can.

serotonin

So: brain chemistry can be affected by environmental factors, as well as by medication.

Because survivors of childhood trauma often FEEL OVERWHELMED BY THEIR EMOTIONS, studies have been conducted which also show that activities that discharge these emotions in a creative or constructive manner can also change brain chemistry for the better. Examples include drawing, painting, writing or undertaking what are called TRAUMA RELEASE EXERCISES.

In addition to human studies, there have also been some studies on animals. There is now a growing body of evidence that new experiences can regenerate animals’ brain cells. Studies in this area are likely to be conducted on humans in the near future.

Because many of these studies are new, their implications have not yet been fully taken advantage of in the construction of treatment programs. Indeed, it is estimated that fewer than 10% of childhood trauma survivors are receiving appropriate therapeutic interventions.

The exciting conclusion that we are able to draw from all of the above is that there is now good evidence that even if the brain has undergone neurological damage as a result of childhood trauma, this CAN BE REVERSED due to the fact that THE BRAIN CONTINUES TO CHANGE THROUGHOUT LIFE.

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