Edna Foa – a Huge Influencer on the Treatment of PTSD

When you think of who would be the most influential in this world, who do you think of? Maybe it’s one of the presidents, a celebrity, or even a well-known scientist. Time Magazine has composed a list of the Top 100 Influential people in the world, and while it does include those kinds of people, it also has one name that you might not expect. Her name is Edna Foa.

 

Edna Foa, MD, is a huge influence in the world of mental health and PTSD, and she has been a  big success in finding ways to help those that struggle with trauma. So much so that she’s earned a spot in the list of 100 most influential people in the world.

 

If you suffer from any mental illness, especially PTSD, you should know her name for how much she has given us. She first began by studying post-rape trauma. It was a good field to be in, and there was a lot to learn there. In 2000 though, when she when on sabbatical with her husband, was when she really found her calling. They went to Israel, and just 5 days after getting there, the second intifadeh began. This encouraged Foa to begin focusing on combat-related PTSD.

 

Edna Foa then came to create a form of therapy called Prolonged Exposure, or PE, and the results of this technique were incredible. They just couldn’t be ignored.

 

PE therapy works by first figuring out what thoughts and situations trigger the PTSD patient. Then, the patient is slowly exposed to their fears so that they can work on overcoming them. This starts out by first dragging up the memories that the person carries, and going through them bit by bit and unraveling everything that’s beneath the surface. Once this is done, they eventually begin to face their fears by being physically exposed to them. These fear can be certain places and even specific circumstances.

 

The results of this treatment just couldn’t be overlooked, and PTSD sufferers usually felt better within just 12 weeks. No other form of treatment seemed to be this effective. PE has made a hugely positive impact on the way that we now treat PTSD, and more and more people are able to get the relief that they need from it. Even the military has picked it up and uses it to treat combat-related PTSD, those that have suffered in war and battle.

 

If you’d like to know more about Edna Foa and what she has done for the treatment of PTSD and other mental health issues, she has many published books and articles that you can check out. A great one is “PTSD: Treatment Efficacy and Future Directions”  for Psychiatric Times. She has truly made a big difference in this world, and it has earned her a spot on the list of Top 100 influencers in the world. PTSD is a serious illness to have to battle, but healing is more possible than ever thanks to people like Edna Foa.

 

Unspoken Symptoms Of PTSD: Extreme Reactions to Memories

PTSD is usually caused by a very traumatic event in a person’s life, but sometimes it seems as though dealing with the PTSD afterward is worse than the actual event itself. One of the common side effects of PTSD is flashbacks. This is where the sufferer begins to remember the event vividly as if completely reliving the situation all over again. Even for those that don’t have PTSD, they know that those that do can suffer from flashbacks.

 

But sometimes, it’s not just flashbacks that they have to deal with. Those with PTSD can have extreme reactions to anything that reminds them of the terrible event, and these reactions include more than just the common flashbacks.

 

Extreme reactions can include but are not limited to fast heart rate, hyperventilating, nausea, tension, stress, vomiting, and sweating. That’s a lot for a person to have to deal with on a regular basis, and if not dealt with properly, these extreme reactions can also turn into intense flashbacks.

 

The best thing to do is to try to avoid things that you know are trigger points for you. You should also seek out therapy to learn healthy coping mechanisms and learn to eventually overcome your fears.

 

If you know someone with PTSD, try to learn their trigger points and make an effort to not bring them up around that person. If you find yourself in a situation where they begin showing extreme reactions, just stay calm and try to give them your full support.

Your PTSD Might Be More “Complex” Than You Thought…

Do you feel like you might be suffering from PTSD, but the events that have caused it still aren’t over? Are you still having to face the issue that is making your mental health decline? If so, you might have what is called Complex PTSD. Complex PTSD is what happens when a person can get no escape from whatever is causing their trauma. If you think this is you, then read more below to find out if you fit the symptoms.

 

Feeling Alone

Those that suffer from C-PTSD can have a really hard time trusting other people, and not being able to trust means not letting anyone in, and never actually being able to connect with others. This can also be fed by the victim feeling outcast for their differences. They can feel broken and useless, making them shy away from others and leading to aloneness.

 

Having Emotional Flashbacks

There are different kinds of flashbacks that people with PTSD can suffer from. One of them is emotional flashbacks, and this is where emotions from the past are triggered by something more minor. You might find yourself getting intensely emotional and overwhelmed for irrational reasons, and you can blame this on emotional flashbacks. This kind is the least understood of all flashbacks but is pretty common among those with C-PTSD.

 

Being hypervigilant

Hypervigilance is when you are extra aware of things and people. Many tend to scan a room upon entering it or sit with their backs against a wall. For those with C-PTSD, they can be hypervigilant about people. You might find yourself watching people for signs of lying or hurting you, such as watching their body language and movements, and their tone of voice.

 

Feeling Hopeless, Ashamed, and Depressed

When things seem like they’re never going to get better, it can bring on lots of feelings of hopelessness. Many even lose faith in their religious and spiritual beliefs. For physical and sexual abuse victims, they can be made to feel ashamed of who they are. They might feel dirty, disgusting, and worthless for how they’ve been treated. These kinds of thoughts can lead to depression and even suicidal tendencies if they continue.

 

Trying to Lean on Someone Else

When so much keeps going wrong, those with C-PTSD try to find relief by searching out someone to lean on. This desperations usually results in being in another toxic relationship that will cause even more trauma in the long run. For those that dealt with childhood trauma, they can have a hurt inner child, and this could mean seeking out a parent figure to take care of them.

 

Dissociating

When we are faced with never-ending trauma, sometimes the only way to be able to escape and cope with it all is to completely dissociate. A certain level of this is normal, and can even be healthy. But there comes a point when it can become very unhealthy and even turn into Dissociative Identity Disorder.

 

Staying Tense

Many people carry stress in their shoulders and necks, but for those dealing with C-PTSD, they carry it in their entire body. They can tense up and stay that way for long periods of time without even realizing it, waiting for the next attack to hit. This can cause unexplained muscle soreness.

 

There are a lot of symptoms that those with C-PTSD must face and deal with every day. Remember, there is hope for those that suffer, but it takes strength to get through. If you haven’t reached your happy ending, then it’s not the end yet.

Is PTSD Affecting Your Memory?

Do you often find it hard to remember simple, everyday things such as whether or not you brushed your teeth, or why you just walked into a different room? If so, it could be another symptom of your PTSD. Studies show that when you suffer from PTSD, the hippocampus – the region of your brain that is responsible for emotions and memory – is damaged, and can even shrink in volume up to 8%. So what can you do to help with the short term memory loss of day to day life? There are a few options.

 

Take Medication

Studies have shown that SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are good for more than just fighting depression. They can also improve memory skills. So if you’re taking an SSRI for PTSD, it will likely help decrease the short term memory loss that comes with it.

 

Reduce Environmental Stress

You can’t heal from a stress-related disorder if you never get a break from it. Remove yourself from the toxic environment, and it might help you to be able to think straight once again.

 

Practice Organization

If your thoughts are all over the place, write them down so you can make some sense of them. This way, you won’t have to rely on your memory so much, and you can trust what you have written down. Plus, studies show that the action of writing things down helps you to remember it.

 

Stay Away From Distractions

When you go to complete a task, try to do it with as little distractions as possible. If you’re going to get something from a room, be thinking about where it is so you’re prepared when you get there. If you’re cleaning or working, try turning off the electronics.

 

There are a variety of ways to help you with your short term memory loss. And as long as you stay positive through the whole process, things are bound to get better with time.

Are you Facing a Flying Monkey?

You’ve finally managed to get out of a bad relationship with a narcissist. You’re finally starting to feel better and can actually work on boosting your self-esteem again. All the hard times are over now – or so it seems. As if dealing with a narcissist wasn’t bad enough, now you have to face their flying monkeys.

 

You might be wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Think of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. Instead of directly doing everything herself, the witch would send out flying monkeys to do all of her dirty work for her. Now the term “flying monkeys” has been picked up by psychologists and is what they call those who basically do all the deeds of the narcissist for them.

 

But why would someone want to act as a minion for a narcissist? Narcissists are very manipulative and good at turning things around to make them seem like the victim. The flying monkey might not even realize what they are doing at the time. They might be tricked into believing that they are simply helping a friend out. Just like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, they probably wish to be freed too, once they realize what is happening. So don’t blame the person acting as the flying monkey, blame the narcissist that is controlling them.

 

Flying monkeys can be manipulated into doing a variety of things to harm you. This includes spying, gossiping, and even coming at you directly. If you think you have a person or people acting as a flying monkey towards you, there are a few things that you can do.

 

If you believe that the person that is acting as a flying monkey is being controlled and manipulated, you can try simply talking to them. Explain the situation of how you were being abused by the narcissist, and that they don’t have to be controlled by them either. Let your voice be heard too, and let them hear both sides of the situation. Don’t get upset though if they get defensive. Chances are, they just aren’t ready to get help yet. Realizing that they are now being abused is something that they will have to come to on their own in order to receive help.

 

If you know you have flying monkeys spying and stalking your social media accounts, simply make your accounts private. If they are actively coming after you with messages, posts, or anything else, report it and block them for your own sake.

 

If you know people are gossiping about you, the best thing that you can do is keep your head up and don’t let it get to you. Dispel rumors that do come your way, but don’t make things worse by spreading some of your own about the other person.

 

Dealing with a narcissist is hard work, and it doesn’t help when it seems like the trouble just never goes away. But keep moving forward and don’t give up, because it all gets better in the long run.

Do You Qualify for Disability?

Battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious matter.  PTSD is a medical condition that can affect every aspect of your life, making it difficult to function in a normal and productive way.  Sometimes the symptoms become severe enough that you struggle to get out of bed, take care of yourself, or hold a job. When your PTSD is this bad you may become eligible for Social Security disability.  

 

Social Security disability is designed as a safety net for those who, through no fault of their own, are not able to work due to some sort of medical condition.  While it may be easy to see someone with a physical condition and understand why they struggle to find work, there are many people who struggle to make ends meet while they fight against real and severe mental and emotional disorders.  But, while PTSD can cause a real need for disability benefits, it can often be difficult to prove.

 

If you feel you may need the help of Social Security disability, it is important that you file as soon as possible. You can find information on the Social Security Administration website (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/apply.html) as well as an online application. But before you file, you should make sure you have all of your documentation in order.  Make sure you have spoken to your therapist and can document your severe PTSD symptoms. For most people, PTSD will fall under the Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders section of the Social Security Administration guidelines.  In order to qualify for disability in this section you will need to document the following:

 

12.06 Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders (see 12.00B5), satisfied by A and B, or A and C:

Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1, 2, or 3:
Anxiety disorder, characterized by three or more of the following;
Restlessness;
Easily fatigued;
Difficulty concentrating;
Irritability;
Muscle tension; or
Sleep disturbance.
Panic disorder or agoraphobia, characterized by one or both:
Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences; or
Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces).
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by one or both:
Involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts; or
Repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.
AND

Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).
OR

Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and
Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c).

 

Once you have your documentation in order, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Disability is there for you as a way to live and survive with this debilitating disorder.

Support for our Veterans

It may seem on this blog that I tend to downplay the effects of PTSD on our soldiers, but that isn’t my intent at all! It’s just that combat PTSD is so well known and I want to shed light on other types of PTSD. But today, in honor of Veteran’s Day earlier this week, I want to look at how PTSD is affecting our veterans.

 

Like all PTSD, our soldiers suffer from exposure to trauma. For them, it is usually due to combat. Being fired at, experiencing an IED explosion, watching friends being injured or killed, and having to kill others are all extremely traumatic experiences. And these experiences are often repeated and ongoing, with no option to escape. Because of this, veteran PTSD can be some of the most severe cases.

 

Of course, once the soldier is home, this PTSD affects their whole family. The anxiety, depression, irritability, and hopelessness make it difficult for them to rebuild a normal life and can often cause major stress and trouble. This is one of the reasons that soldiers commit suicide at over twice the rate of civilians.

 

But just like all PTSD and trauma survivors, there is hope. The VA has put a lot of effort into combating PTSD. Veterans and soldiers can reach out to medical professionals. The VA’s National PTSD Center’s website has immediate support for those who feel they may be suffering from PTSD or who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. They even have a live confidential veterans chat along with support phone numbers.

 

If you are a veteran and feel you need help, reach out. There is hope if you take advantage of the resources available. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.