PTSD in Children and Teens

We talk about PTSD in adult quite frequently in this blog, but adults aren’t the only ones who can suffer. Children and teens can develop PTSD after a traumatic event too, but they might show different symptoms.

 

So how can you tell if your child has PTSD? There are various signs to look out for.

 

If your child is between 5 and 12 years old, you might notice them behaving differently. They might start reenacting the event through play. For example, if they witnessed a shooting, they might be drawn more to shooting games. They might also start avoiding certain things if they see a pattern of events. This because the child thinks that they can predict when another bad thing is about to happen, based on things that happened before the traumatic event.

 

If your child is between the age of 12 and 18, they might begin acting impulsively and aggressively. You might think this is typical teenage behavior, but don’t be fooled. The older they are, the more similar their symptoms will be to those of adults with PTSD, but don’t overlook their impulsivity and more aggressive behaviors.

 

If the family has gone through trauma, it’s always a good idea to get the entire family into therapy. If you know or even think your child has gone through some trauma, it’s always best to get them into therapy too, even if you’re unsure of what caused their odd behavior. It’s important to catch PTSD early on in childhood and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Dealing with Trauma Anniversaries

Valentine’s Day was just this past week, and while this day was filled with love and romance for many, it was filled with heartache and suffering for others. Valentine’s Day, just like any holiday or anniversary, can be a hard thing to go through, especially if you have PTSD.

 

Anniversaries are usually seen as a positive thing, something you look forward to and plan for. You celebrate the anniversary of your relationship or wedding, and even birthdays. But some anniversaries aren’t quite so cheery. It can be difficult when you lose a loved one, break off a serious relationship, or experience any sort of traumatic event, and PTSD can be the result of these things. The event itself can be hard enough, but when the anniversary date for it rolls around, you might find yourself experiencing the struggle all over again.

 

Oftentimes, the anniversary of the traumatic event can cause your PTSD to really flare up. Depression, guilt, and shame might begin to set in as you think about the event. Triggers that you thought you had overcome now take hold of you once again, and you begin to experience flashbacks and panic attacks.

 

If it’s been long enough since the traumatic event, you’ll begin to notice these anniversary patterns and you might start avoiding certain places, people, and any other triggers related to the event. Before the anniversary even arrives, you might feel nervous and on edge as you dread the upcoming day.

 

Anniversaries of traumatic events are definitely no fun so it might help to be prepared for when the day comes. The right way to approach the trauma-related anniversary truly depends on the person and what the trauma is. For some, they feel closure and relief by doing something in honor of the event. This could be visiting the grave of someone they lost, donating or volunteering to help disaster relief, or simply taking a few moments of silence.

 

For others, like rape victims, for example, the best thing to do is avoid thinking about the event and try to completely distract themselves. This is where planning ahead is really important. Maybe plan for a fun day with family or friends, spend the day out in town, go to a movie, or do anything that you know will keep your mind busy.

 

If you’re unsure of how to handle the upcoming dreaded day, then talk to your therapist. They are trained to know how to handle these situations, and, being your therapist, they should know what way of coping should work best for you. Your therapist is there to help you in any way that they can.

 

The anniversary date of your traumatic event might feel like it lasts forever, but that day will soon pass too. Sometimes though, the feelings that arise from the anniversary can last up to a few weeks, and that’s okay. Take all the time you need to process and cope with the event, and know that it does get better from here on out. Healing from PTSD is possible.

 

Overcoming Avoidance

In a previous blog, we talked about avoidance as a symptom of PTSD. It’s an easy go-to for coping with the trauma that you had to face. While there are times where using avoidance maneuvers can actually be a good thing, it’s no longer a good thing when you do it all the time.

 

Avoidance has its time and place but it’s important to know when and where you should use it in your daily life. Sometimes, you need to think about other things and distract yourself when you’re out in public, hanging out with friends and family, or doing work. This way, you can be in the moment without your trauma getting in the way. But the thoughts and emotions that arise throughout the day will still eventually need to be dealt with.

 

When a time comes where you can actually parse out those things, you might find yourself no longer wanting to. After all, if you could shove all those annoying thoughts and feelings aside before, why not do the same now? But continuing to avoid what’s inside of you will lead to it all building up and coming out later in much more unhealthy ways.

 

Sometimes you just need to let everything out, whether that’s talking and venting to a friend, family member, or your therapist. Those boxes in your mind that you closed up earlier in the day or week are going to have to be gone through at some point. You need an outlet so that you can use avoidance in a healthy way and still be able to overcome your trauma.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – Another Option for PTSD Healing

In one of the previous blogs, we talked about Somatic Experiencing (SE), where the focus is on what the physical body goes through after trauma. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is very similar to that as well. Sensorimotor functioning has to do with your senses and motor skills in your surrounding environment. When you have PTSD, your mind and body can react differently to certain sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and physical sensations. Sometimes this means that your body kicks into fight or flight mode, and other times you simply shut down and begin dissociating from everything and everyone around you. This can then really begin to mess with your head, making your thoughts turn foggy and erratic. Your emotions can become a complete mess too, and before you know it, you’re spiraling down into a horrendous panic episode.

 

The idea behind Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is to bring your physical body’s responses in line with your mental state so that instead of feeding off of each other and bringing on more panic, they mitigate each other and bring you to a place of ease, where you can appropriately deal with what’s in front of you and eventually and completely overcome your trauma once and for all.

 

Our thoughts hold a lot of power over us. If you think you can’t do something, then you won’t. If you don’t feel like you’re good enough, then you aren’t. It’s the same thing when it comes to your physical body. If you think you’re afraid, then your body is going to act like it is afraid. If you think you are helpless, then your body will act in this way too. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy will help you to recognize your negative and obtrusive thoughts so that you can stop allowing them to rule your life.

 

Positive thinking can go a long way in healing PTSD, and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy can help you to recognize your negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones. This is a great method for processing traumatic memories so you can learn to overcome them. This form of therapy was developed by Dr. Pat Ogden in the 1970s. She says that this approach uses a combination of strategies to help you heal, including neuroscience, the attachment theory, somatic and cognitive approaches, and what is known as the Hakomi Method.

 

The Hakomi Method is a form of therapy that focuses on mindfulness, loving-kindness, and empathy. These are things that everyone could benefit from, but especially those that are suffering from PTSD.

 

If you’d like to know more about the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy approach, Dr. Pat Ogden published a book on it that’s titled Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment. In it, it goes into detail about how and why it works. If you are unsure as to where to turn to next for getting your PTSD under control, you should check this out. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy just might be the best option for you.

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.

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.

What will Happen with Kevin Spacey?

It’s a dangerous world out there, which is why the law was set in place to begin with. It is the duty of the law enforcement and court systems to keep its citizens safe and put away those that do harm to others. But sometimes it’s hard to tell who the real problem is in a situation.

 

Kevin Spacey, who many of us know and love from the show, “House of Cards,” was charged with felony sexual assault for an alleged incident in 2016. His accuser says that Spacey got an 18 year old drunk by buying him drinks, then without consent, shoved his hands down his pants and grabbed his genitals. The victim was a bus boy who had convinced Spacey that he was of legal drinking age, and it was said that he wanted a job and nothing more from Spacey.

 

It turns out that this was not the first time that Spacey would be called out for having sexual relations with boys and minors. Actor Anthony Rapp came forward admitting that Spacy had made inappropriate sexual advances towards him when he was just 14. Three more people spoke up later, admitting similar stories that had happened to them with Spacey.

 

With all of the accusations, it probably didn’t help that Spacey had come out as gay. After all the blame that was put on him, he even began receiving help in order to work through the trauma of it all.

 

Now, two years after the incident, Spacey has finally been spotted again. He was last photographed at the end of December as he was climbing into an SUV. He was wearing a big scarf that covered his neck and face, and a hat pulled down low to try to hide his identity as much as possible.

 

It must be hard to live through the embarrassment and shame of being accused of such horrible things, and no one knows this more than Kevin Spacey. It’s no wonder that he hid away from the world for so long. I think all of us would if we had that giant weight on our shoulders.

 

For those that are victims of narcissistic abuse, we get a taste for what it’s like to be accused of things we may not have actually done. Stories always get twisted around to make things seem worse than they really are and to make the truth harder and harder to find for everyone else. Do we truly know what happened between Spacey and the bus boy? No. So why should we always assume the worst? After all, Kevin Spacey has only charged with – not yet convicted of – a felony. Plus, would a predator really seek therapy like Spacey did? Spacey was looking for help to get through the whole mess, so it just doesn’t make sense. Things aren’t always black and white, and those that have dealt with narcissistic abuse should know more than anyone that you shouldn’t always believe in the very first thing you hear.