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Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse — A Resource

Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse — A Resource

The effects of childhood sexual abuse can be felt for a long time after childhood is over, even a lifetime, if left untreated. I have found that to be true for me, as well as many others I know who have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from childhood sexual abuse. I recently read a book called, Hungry for Touch, A Journey from Fear to Desire, by Laureen Peltier that is an excellent example of how childhood trauma can cause PTSD symptoms much later in life. The book also shows how perseverance in treatment can bring healing from the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. 

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How to Heal PTSD During Ongoing Trauma

How to Heal PTSD During Ongoing Trauma

Healing is all about being able to shift out out of survival mode, complete the trauma response, consolidate memories and move into a life focused on things other than threat and danger, safety and control. If you’re in a situation in which trauma maintains a high level of threat, either ongoing or sporadically, it’s going to be very tough to heal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In that case, it can be beneficial to switch to a different strategy: Bulking up your trauma coping skills.

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The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Bullying

The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Bullying

Six months ago I was in the intensive care unit (ICU) with sepsis. When I came out, my brain was significantly impaired. I couldn’t read, write or speak fluently. I’m in my 40s and suddenly everything I depended on about myself in terms of being able to communicate both personally and professionally had become enormously dysfunctional. I worried I’d never be the same.

When the neurologist and my physician visited my hospital room, I expressed how frightened I was that my brain was going to be changed forever. Immediately, the physician put my fears to rest.

“Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine,” he said. “If you were younger – if you were a child – we’d have more to be concerned about. The brain continues its original development up to the age of twenty-five. If this trauma to your brain had happened during that timeframe we wouldn’t be able to guarantee anything. But you’re old enough so that your neural networks have fully developed. All of your regular neural functions should come back within six months.”

He was right. Slowly, all of my reading, writing and speaking skills have returned. But what happens to people traumatized at a younger age? New research about childhood bullying further proves that the impact of what happens during those crucial years of brain development can last well into adulthood.

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Remembering Boston Marathon Bombings: I'm Proud of You

Remembering Boston Marathon Bombings: I'm Proud of You

On 9/11 I was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was already deep into years of my posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) struggle. At the time of the attacks I was “sleeping late” due to my all-night insomnia. What woke me that morning was the enormous number of sirens careening down Broadway just outside my window. I lived one block from a firehouse and the amount of activity from their garage and on the street was deafening.

I sprang out of bed with my heart pounding. I’d been sensitizing my amygdala for years, so it took very little for me to have an exaggerated startle response and a quick emotional reaction when things out of the ordinary occurred. I turned on the radio and then the TV and watched as the drama unfolded.

New York is a tough city, but that day, a new type of survivorship had just begun.

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New PTSD Research Predicts Who Will End Up With PTSD

New PTSD Research Predicts Who Will End Up With PTSD

The theory: If we can develop models that predict the likelihood of a survivor developing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) then we might be able to develop ways to prevent it.

In the ongoing search for answers, new PTSD research delivers interesting findings on who will end up with PTSD and one important cause of PTSD.

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How To Explain Trauma To People Who Don't Get It

How To Explain Trauma To People Who Don't Get It

So many times I’ve heard civilians say, “You mean, major trauma that leads to PTSD happens outside of the military?” The answer, of course, is a big, resounding, YES! The problem is that we don’t have enough sources demystifying trauma and PTSD so that it’s easy to see where it comes from and how it happens. (Finding Meaning in Trauma and PTSD)

Have you ever heard about someone else’s awful traumatic experience and thought that yours was inconsequential, or less awful? All too often we look at the experience of others and judge our own experiences against them. But that’s fundamentally wrong. Just because your trauma may not, on the surface, appear “as bad” as someone else’s doesn’t mean it’s any less traumatic or has less adverse effects.

Adding to this kind of thinking is the opinion of other people. Whether you’re in a competitive support group where members try to outdo each other with horror stories, or you’re surrounded by people who don’t understand what trauma is, it’s easy to feel devalued and invalidated by the comments of the world outside.

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5 Ways to Face Your PTSD Fears

5 Ways to Face Your PTSD Fears

Yesterday a radio show host interviewed me about PTSD symptoms and recovery. We spoke about causes of posttraumatic stress, PTSD statistics and healing methods. We also talked a lot about fear and its place after trauma. All of which has left me thinking about fear today and how it impacts our PTSD experience and coping mechanisms, plus the recovery process. Or, more importantly, how fear gets in the way of and interferes with the recovery process.

If PTSD itself occurs because an enormous fear has entered our lives, is it possible to get rid of the fear enough to heal?

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PTSD Symptoms: Do They Come Back?

PTSD Symptoms: Do They Come Back?

It’s a common worry: If I heal PTSD symptoms, and then experience another trauma, will PTSD return?

I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately. I hear it often from the survivors I coach, and also from the enormous PTSD community in which I participate.

And now, I’m thinking about it for an even more personal reason: Two weeks ago I almost died in a trauma eerily reminiscent of my original, PTSD-creating experience.

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Children and Trauma: How To Notice the Signs

Children and Trauma: How To Notice the Signs

When you see a child acting out and misbehaving, or an adult who seems unable to focus, connect or control emotions, how often do think to yourself, “Hmmm, I wonder if there’s trauma in that person’s background…” More often than not we just blame and feel abused and/or frustrated by such behaviors – even when they’re our own.

Understanding the link between childhood trauma and negative behavior patterns can be critical to treating them.

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PTSD Caused By Many Types of Trauma

PTSD Caused By Many Types of Trauma

As a mental health advocate, author and speaker, I attend many events surrounding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All too often, I experience a conversation that goes like this:

“What do you do, exactly?” someone will ask.

“I help trauma survivors learn to cope with, manage and overcome symptoms of PTSD,” I reply.

“Ohhhhh,” their eyes light up. “You work with veterans!”

People often don’t realize that the causes of PTSD result from many types of trauma.

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