Child Abuse May Change Brain Structure And Make Depression Worse

Author Article

A study of over a hundred people’s brains suggests that abuse during childhood is linked to changes in brain structure that may make depression more severe in later life.

Nils Opel at the University of Münster, Germany, and his colleagues scanned the brains of 110 adults hospitalised for major depressive disorder and asked them about the severity of their depression and whether they had experienced neglect or emotional, sexual or physical abuse during childhood.

Statistical analysis revealed that those who experienced childhood abuse were more likely to have a smaller insular cortex – a brain region involved in emotional awareness.

Over the following two years, 75 of the adults experienced another bout of depression. The team found that those who had both a history of childhood abuse and a smaller insular cortex were more likely to have a relapse.

“This is pointing to a mechanism: that childhood trauma leads to brain structure alterations, and these lead to recurrence of depression and worse outcomes,” says Opel.

The findings suggest that people with depression who experienced abuse as children could need specialised treatment, he says.

Brain changes can be reversible, says Opel, and the team is planning to test which types of therapies might work best for this group.

Journal reference: Lancet Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30044-6

Mental Self-Harm: 3 Ways We All Constantly Abuse Ourselves

Author Article

Two SwordsGETTY

The concept of Self-Harm is generally confined to acts of physical self-abuse, but observation of our own inner dynamics, reveals the same phenomenon taking place mentally, well before it manifests in our behaviour.

In this article we explore three ways in which all but the most self-aware and emotionally intelligent are constantly compromising their mental health by indulging in addictive, repetitive and habitual cycles of thinking and feeling:

1. Imagination – To illustrate how we abuse our imaginations, a thought exercise may help: Stop whatever you’re doing and look at all the man-made artefacts that you’re surrounded by: tables, chairs, buildings, computers, cars etc. Each of these began life in someone’s imagination as a thought. It was conceived as a concept in the womb of a mind – the imagination. In many cases these creations are the results of millions of human imaginations interacting over decades, centuries and millennia.

Our imaginations are, arguably, the single most powerful faculty that we are in possession of, to do with what we will. Your imagination is available to you at every waking moment of your life, to create whatever thought-form you desire, with no exceptions.

But, of course, your imagination doesn’t care how it’s used – it is just a tool. So when you use it to create scenarios in which you imagine yourself to be less than you are, this is problematic.

Using your imagination to create a self-image that is not professionally competent, in spite of your achievements, Imposter Syndrome, is a common form of abuse that most of us will experience.

Another is the creation of imagined situations that we fear – the worst case scenario – sometimes masquerading as planning. The continued imagination of these outcomes with their attendant feelings – worry or anxiety – has a causal link to depression.

But perhaps the most damaging way in which we use our imaginations against ourselves is through the creation of self-images that deny our full potential: I can’t do thatI don’t deserve this; they have all the luck.

2. Sympathy – originally meaning affected by like feelings, Sympathy is the admission of others’ feelings into one’s own experience, rather like open guitar strings will vibrate in sympathy with a human voice. But the problem is fundamental: how can we ever be quite certain that we are feeling what the other is feeling? And even if we were able to experience another’s feelings, to what end?

A surgeon needs no personal experience of a heart attack to perform heart surgery. A psychologist need not be a psychopath to work with one. The fact that I cannot feel someone’s emotions does not mean that I don’t want to help them. That I am aware of their distress is enough to evoke a compassionate response.

Sympathy is an abuse of one’s own feeling system and can all too easily degenerate into ownership of, and responsibility for others’ challenges. This syndrome not only burdens the sympathiser with feelings they are not entitled to, it also interferes with the other’s ability to respond accordingly.

3. Criticism – entertaining negativity about your circumstances, yourself and your relationships is another form of self-abuse. The etymology of the word critic suggests a sense of separation into parts, and a discrimination between those parts. Hence the symbology of the sword of justice. A similar metaphor is used with regard to the intellect which is intended to be sharp, as in a rapier wit.

So when the criticism is turned upon oneself, the sharp mind can inflict the most appalling damage on itself , reducing self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence, to ultimately create a psychopathology.

Yet criticism of others, although superficially different, does not protect the critic who still chooses to immerse themselves in negativity of their own creation. And, of course, if the criticism is projected, then the source is the same.

So why do we habitually engage in these practices that destroy our well-being? One answer is that the western system of education prizes the intellect above everything, and that little else gets a look-in.

And so, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail… or rather:

If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

38 Daily Affirmations For Healing Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

Author Article

38 Daily Affirmations For Healing Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): Happens when your parents fail to respond enough to your emotional needs as they raise you.

Growing up with your parents under-responding to your feelings throughout your childhood sets you up to under-respond to your own feelings through your adulthood. Essentially, you are trained to ignore, minimize, and perhaps even be ashamed of, your own feelings.

But the good news is that Childhood Emotional Neglect is not a lifelong sentence. You can heal it. And it’s not as difficult or complicated as you might think.

By beginning to pay attention to yourself and your own feelings, you can begin to honor your deepest self; the self that was so ignored as a child. The more you focus on yourself, your own feelings and needs and wants, the better you can take step after step through the CEN healing process.

Why You Need Affirmations

As a psychologist who specializes in treating Childhood Emotional Neglect, I have walked hundreds of people through the 5 stages of CEN recovery. And I have watched motivated people slip off-track, distracted by the demands of their everyday life or discouraged about their inability to make it happen fast enough.

One thing I know from going through this with so many CEN folks is that the ones who succeed, who really change their lives, are the ones who never give up.

The best thing you can do to heal yourself is to keep your goals in your mind as you go through your day. And to help you do that, I am sharing with you daily affirmations in every area of your recovery: healing yourself, healing your marriage, parenting your children, and coping with your emotionally neglectful parents.

Once you get started, you may want to use some from all 4 areas, because once you start to see yourself through the lens of CEN, you may reflect differently on every important person in your life.

How to Use The Affirmations

I recommend you read through all of the affirmations below. As you do so, you may notice that certain ones jump out at you. These are the ones that you likely need the most right now.

You can use these affirmations in two different ways. You can say them to yourself when you need them, to keep you on track, remind you of what’s important, and strengthen you. And you can also use them as starting points to help you think about, or meditate on, what’s important in your healing. I hope you will use them, and use them well.

Special Note: To learn how to repair Emotional Neglect in your most important relationships see the book Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents & Your Children. Childhood Emotional Neglect can be subtle and unmemorable so it can be hard to know if you grew up with it. To find out Take The Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free.

38 Daily Affirmations/Meditations For Healing Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

FOR HEALING YOURSELF

My wants and needs are just as important as anyone else’s.

My feelings are important messages from my body.

My feelings matter.

I am a valid human being with feelings and needs.

I am worth getting to know.

I am a likable and lovable person.

I am the only person responsible for getting my own needs met.

It is not selfish, but responsible, to put my own needs first.

Asking for help is a sign of strength.

Feelings are never right or wrong. They just are.

I am proud to be a deeply feeling person.

All human beings make mistakes. What matters is that I learn from mine.

I deserve to be cared for.

My feelings are walled off, but they are still there, and they are important.

Every feeling can be managed.

FOR PARENTING YOUR CHILDREN

My children’s feelings drive their behavior. Feelings first.

I can’t give my children what I do not have myself.

My child is important, but so am I.

The better I care for myself, the better I can care for my child.

I don’t need to be a perfect parent. I just need to pay enough attention to their feelings.

I will give my child what I never got from my parents.

The best way to do better for my children is to do better for myself.

FOR HEALING YOUR MARRIAGE

I matter, and so does my husband/wife.

My partner cannot read my mind.

It’s my responsibility to tell my partner what I want, feel and need.

My partner and I each have hundreds of feelings each and every day.

It’s okay if my partner’s feelings are not the same as mine.

The facts are less important than my partner’s feelings.

When it comes to my marriage, sharing is key.

My partner needs me to talk more and ask more questions.

FOR COPING WITH YOUR PARENTS

I did not choose to grow up emotionally neglected.

My parents could not give me what they did not have.

My parents are not capable of seeing or knowing the real me.

I am angry at my parents for a reason. They failed me in a very important way.

I can spend time with my emotionally neglectful parents. My boundaries will protect me.

I don’t have to be validated by my parents. I validate myself.

If my parents are not able to see me, I will see myself.

It’s my responsibility to give myself what my parents couldn’t give me. And I will.

Childhood Emotional Neglect can be subtle and unmemorable so it can be hard to know if you have it. To find out Take The Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free.

To learn much more about how Emotional Neglect happens and how to heal it, see the book Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.

Podcast: What to Do About Toxic Relationships

Author Article

Toxic relationships come in many forms. They can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and more. Most of us, at one point or another, will find ourselves in one… perhaps with a romantic partner, possibly a friend, or even with a family member. Even good relationships can sour and turn toxic. So what do we do when we realize that we’re in such a relationship? Listen for some excellent advice and information.

How Do I Deal with My Toxic Mother?

Author Article

From a young woman in Macedonia: Hello. I would like to ask you how to deal with my mother who is always negative. First of all I must say that she is a good person and would never hurt me. However she has always been a very negative person which affects me really bad. Since I was a child,she has always been crying about her small health, financial and any other issue she would have. I’ve always lived in fear that something bad will happen,that she will die,that we are destined to be an unhappy family and I’ve never been happy in my home.

The first words I hear every morning must be her bragging or crying about something, its a very bad start of the day to see your mother unhappy but this is an everyday thing for me. She continues this during the whole day and even if someone says something positive she always has something negative to find. She is always crying,screaming to us,bragging how everything is horrible.When I try to talk to her about this,and tell her that this affects me really bad in every field of my life, she starts making drama and bragging to my father that I want to control her and that I am bad to her. Even though I only say to her that I want her to be more positive just because it will make us all happier, she tells me that I am mean,bad and horrible person who doesn’t respect her.

I feel very depressed because of this, she has made me think that things can never be good,never improve,there must be something bad in everything,that I am bad just because I don’t want to see her unhappy and bragging everyday…

If I tell her that I can’t listen to this everyday she tells me to go and live on my own than.I am only 20 years old student who can’t live on my own.I strongly believe that everything is energy, and wonder how to have a good positive attitude and life when I have such a bad energy coming from the most important person in my life.I must say that this affects my mental health really bad, I don’t want to wake up in the morning because I don’t want to listen to her , I hate my home, I am depressed and I am becoming negative on my own. I am very jealous to every happy family.

Answered by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker on 2019-01-13 – Link

A.
It sounds to me like your mother is profoundly depressed. She is looking at the world through a filter of negativity and despair. There’s a saying that every cloud has a silver lining. But for your mother, if someone gives her a silver lining, she immediately puts a cloud around it. It is a sad way to live, especially since it is so advanced that she can’t even let the love of a caring family help her change it.

You didn’t mention whether your father shares your concern. I certainly hope so. As a daughter, there is very little you can do to change your mom’s attitude. But your father may be able to encourage her to get into treatment with a mental health professional.

It is not healthy for you to deal with this constantly. Since you can’t yet make a home of your own, you need to find ways to “leave” without physically leaving. Leave for school early. Get involved with school activities or a part time job that keeps you out of the house as much as possible. Find other young people who are doing positive things through volunteer work or an activity you enjoy. Spending time with them will help balance out the negativity of your mother.

Don’t argue with your mother about her attitude. You can’t change her. She will only change if she decides to get the treatment she needs. All you can do is let her know that you love her — which is a lot.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How to Identify a Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Author Article

Over the past year, I’ve read plenty of speculation about the possibility that President Trump has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Comparing the diagnostic criteria to the public face, tweets, and televised interviews with President Trump could easily lead one to this conclusion. While it is certainly possible that he is quite different in private and may not warrant the diagnosis.

Here are the diagnostic criteria for diagnosing Narcissistic Personality Disorder: The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits.

To diagnose a narcissistic personality disorder, the following criteria must be met:

Impairments in self-functioning (A or B)

A.    Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.

B.    Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations.

Impairments in interpersonal functioning (A or B):

A.    Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over or underestimate of own effect on others.

B.    Intimacy: Relationships are largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others’ experiences and the predominance of a need for personal gain or pathological personality traits in the following domain:

·      Antagonism, characterized by: Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others.

·      Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.

·      The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.

·      The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

·      The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).

It does rather sound like the public impression of him.

One of my ongoing frustrations with the diagnosis of personality disorders is that they tend to be described as permanent and unchangeable. As someone who has worked with thousands of patients over the years, I think about personality disorders differently. It is useful to think of each personality disorder or personality style as existing on a continuum from relatively functional and healthy to dysfunctional and problematic. Often high levels of stress and difficult environmental circumstances can push someone from a functional personality style to a personality disorder. For example, someone with a narcissistic personality disorder could adapt and modify to being a very self-confident, risk taker. Here are the 10 personality disorders with labels when the personality style is more moderated and functional:

The American Psychiatric Association
Source: The American Psychiatric Association

Whether someone displays a personality disorder or a functional personality style depends on a number of factors. Flexibility and adaptability along with coping capacity are large determinants. The important idea is that while someone is unlikely to make wholesale changes in their personality, they can move from a personality disorder to a more functional personality style. Someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder is likely not suddenly going to become the picture of empathy and compassion, however, they can improve their functioning and become more aware of their need to seek more input from others and work at accommodating other’s needs. A person with an Avoidant Personality Disorder can recognize the positive aspect of being sensitive to the needs and feelings of others and pair this with some improved resilience to make this style work for them in relationships. Someone with an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder can modify when, where, and how their style is expressed while using the conscientious aspects to maximize their own performance.

My conclusion is that a personality disorder is not a life sentence to one form of misery or another. All personality disorders have parallel personality styles that can be more functional. People with a personality disorder can learn to adapt and grow to make their personal style work better for them and improve happiness and functioning.

11 Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Relationships

Psych Central Article
By Jessica Cline

You never really know someone until you’ve tried to leave them.

Many women who witnessed various forms of physical abuse and domestic violence in their parents’ marriages swear they will never settle for the same kind of treatment in their own relationships.

However, many are so focused on physical forms of abuse that they too often miss the warning signs of emotional abuse, at least, until they find themselves caught in the trap of an emotionally abusive relationship or marriage themselves.

Having set the bar at physical abuse, which is where our society still keeps that bar to a large extent as well, women in these situations often feel that if they aren’t being hit, they aren’t being abused, and they therefore have no right to complain, let along initiate a divorce or breakup.

If you were raised in an environment of abuse, you may feel more comfortable living within a cycle of violence, which includes emotional forms of violence such as threats to your privacy and control of resources, than you realize.

And even if you do realize this and feel certain that you want to get divorced or leave the toxic relationship, abusers have plenty of tricks up their sleeves for making you believe that doing so impossible.

Signs You’re Being Quietly Abused (and Don’t Even Know It)

Check out YourTango for relationship advice

You can leave, and you should and you will, but before you do, you should know what to look out for so you can be as prepared to deal with it all as well as possible.

Here are 11 signs of emotional abuse in relationships and marriages, and how each may affect you in a divorce or breakup.

1. Withholding Affection.

Withholding affection from a partner is a way to punish the partner and to exercise power and control. This is done intentionally and is sometimes stated to the partner by saying something like, “No kisses until you can be nice again.”

Some partners withhold affection after a disagreement because they don’t feel connected or they don’t feel like offering loving gestures in the moment, but in such cases, the behavior happens only occasionally, rather than on a frequent basis.

2. Threats.

An abuser might threaten to expose you in a way you find embarrassing, or they may threaten to take something important away from you, such as money, your home, or even your own kids.

Some might threaten to leave you if they don’t get their way, or they may say they will tell your friends and/or family something personal about you, which is doubly damaging, as not only are they threatening you, but they are implicitly stating that there is something so wrong with you that you should feel ashamed.

3. Ultimatums.

Ultimatums are really a covert threat, with the abuser placing the blame for “having” to make you decide about something back on you.

The way they see it, the fact that they are giving you a choice through which you can rectify the situation (by doing what they want you to do) is a way in which they are actually being “generous” to you, and that, therefore, all blame for the situation and any possible consequences are entirely your fault.

4. Lack of Respect for Your Privacy.

This is often a subtle sign of emotional abuse. Your partner may check your private messages or voicemails, either by hacking into them or directly insisting you give them the passwords for all of email and social media accounts.

They might even go so far as to insist your share email and social media accounts, so they can analyze everything you do and say.

5. Property Damage.

This skirts the line between physical and emotional abuse. An abusive partner may break or “lose” something they know is meaningful to you as a way to punish you and remind me you of the power they hold over you.

8 Critical Things Loving an Emotional Abuser Teaches You

6. “Magic Tricks.”

Many emotionally abusive behaviors are “magic tricks”, meant to distract you from the reality of the ways in which you are being mistreated, i.e., “Look at this here (so you don’t notice what my other hand is doing there)!”

This might take the form of redirecting blame for their bad acts back to you, starting fights, and firing accusations at you immediately before or after being especially nice and loving, but the sole purpose of all these things is to distract from the abuse that they are subjecting you to repeatedly.

7. Playing the Blame Game.

Partners using power and control in a relationship often aren’t insightful enough to notice the profound effects of their own behavior, nor are likely to ever be willing to taking responsibility for any of it.

Instead, they prefer to blame you, saying things like, “If you just hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had to act that way in response.”

8. Alienation.

Abusive partners often want to control who you are allowed to have meaningful connections with, and how deep those connections should be allow to run. This means that, over time, you may feel as though you have lost some of your most supportive relationships with friends and family, because your partner didn’t approve.

9. Excessive Gift-Giving.

Some abusers give gifts following a fight as an indication of how much they care about you — or, as a threat reminding you of all their generosity you might lose as a consequence should you choose to leave.

In such cases, you may hear them say things like:

  • “Of course I love you. I bought you this ______.”
  • “I buy you so many nice things, even though you don’t appreciate anything I do.”
  • “Everyone else sees what you have and wishes their spouse was as giving as I am.”
  • “If you leave me, you will never have this ______.”

10. Controls of Resources.

Partners may control financial or other resources as a form of punishment or as a way of maintaining control in the relationship, causing you to believe you won’t be able to care for yourself (and your children, if you have them) if you try to leave.

The resources in question aren’t necessarily limited to money. An abuser might limit your access to your car, your cell phone, health insurance, and more.

11. “Micro-Cheating.”

Micro-cheating is considered by some to be ways in which your partner connects with others and hides it from you.

This can take the form of secret messages, code names in their phone’s contact list, going out and refusing to tell you where he’s headed, or giving attention to someone else while withholding attention from you.

You never really know someone until you have divorced them.

Often, we see an even worse side of our partner when we try to leave the relationship. Sometimes divorces and breakups are amicable, however, if you’ve experienced emotional abuse during your marriage or relationship, you can expect these tactics to continue long after you leave.

Leaving partners who are emotionally abusive requires more planning and more support than typical, and it often requires the advice of professionals as well.

If you detect these signs in your relationship, reach out for help from friends, family, a therapist, or a counseling network.

This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 11 Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships — And How Abusers Try Using Them Against You If You Leave.

21 Startling Facts That Everyone Should Know About Adderall

The More You Know…

Adderalllllll facts 👀

PTSD And Complex PTSD: What Happens When You’ve Lived In A Psychological War Zone

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Normally when we think about “PTSD,” our minds jump to those who’ve been in combat. While it is certainly an issue for those who’ve been in real-life war zones, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD isn’t just exclusive to war veterans. In fact, many survivors of childhood emotional neglect, physical or emotional abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and rape can suffer from the symptoms of PTSD or Complex PTSD if they endured long-standing, ongoing and inescapable trauma.

These individuals face combat and battle in invisible war zones that are nonetheless traumatic and potentially damaging. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 8 million people can develop PTSD every year and women are twice as likely than men to experience these symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms of PTSD and Complex PTSD?
There are four types of symptoms that are part of PTSD and some additional symptoms for Complex PTSD as listed below. Complex PTSD, which develops due to chronic, ongoing trauma, is more likely to occur due to long-term domestic violence or childhood sexual and/or physical or emotional abuse. Around 92% of people who meet the criteria for Complex PTSD also meet the criteria for PTSD (Roth, et. al 1997).

It is recommended that you seek professional support if you’re struggling with any of these symptoms, especially if your symptoms last longer than one month, cause great impairment or distress and/or disrupt your ability to function in everyday life. Only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose you and provide an appropriate treatment plan.

1. Reliving and Re-experiencing the Trauma
PTSD: Memories, reoccurring nightmares, persistent unwanted and upsetting thoughts, physical reactivity, vivid flashbacks of the original event can all be a part of PTSD. You may also encounter triggers in everyday life – whether it be something you see, smell, hear, that brings you back to the original event. This can look different for every survivor. A sexual assault survivor might hear the voice of someone who resembles her assailant and find herself reliving the terror of being violated. A domestic violence victim might find herself being triggered by someone raising their voice. Triggers can be seemingly minor or overwhelmingly major, depending on the severity and longevity of the trauma endured.

Complex PTSD: According to trauma therapist Pete Walker (2013), you may also suffer from emotional flashbacks where you ‘regress’ back into the emotional state of the original event and you behave maladaptively to the situation as a result. Walker states that for people with Complex PTSD, individuals develop four “F” responses when they are triggered by emotional flashbacks: they may fight, flee, fawn (seek to please) or freeze. These responses are protective, but they may end up further harming the survivor because the survivor might fail to enforce their boundaries or may use excessive force in protecting themselves.

2. Avoidance of Situations That Remind You Of The Event
PTSD: You go to great lengths to avoid anything that might potentially trigger memories or feelings associated with the traumatic events. If you were in an abusive relationship, for example, you might isolate yourself from others or stop dating in an attempt to avoid being harmed by others.

If you were raped, you might avoid situations where any form of physical contact might arise, whether it be getting a massage or being affectionate with a romantic partner. If you suffered bullying, you might avoid places where group activities are likely to happen, such as large parties or even certain careers that might require high levels of social interaction. This avoidance can include trying to avoid trauma-related thoughts, too; you might keep yourself persistently busy so you don’t have to face any thoughts regarding what you went through.

Complex PTSD: Throughout your life, you may go to excessive lengths to avoid abandonment and resort to people-pleasing or “fawning” behavior. This might result in you having trouble setting boundaries with others, standing up for yourself when your rights are violated and becoming enmeshed in codependent relationships. You might be hypersensitive to signs of disapproval or micro-signals of abandonment.

As therapist Pete Walker (2013) writes, “The Abandonment Depression is the complex painful childhood experience that is reconstituted in an emotional flashback. It is a return to the sense of overwhelm, hopelessness and helplessness that afflicts the abused and/or emotionally abandoned child. At the core of the abandonment depression is the abandonment melange – the terrible emotional mix of fear and shame that coalesces around the deathlike feelings of depression that afflict an abandoned child.”

3. Skewed Belief Systems and Negative Perceptions, Including Self-Blame and Toxic Shame
PTSD: There is a shift in your belief systems and self-perception after the traumatic events. You might suffer from low self-esteem, depression, excessive ruminations, negative self-talk, memory loss related to the trauma, decreased interest in activities you used to enjoy and a heightened sense of self-blame.

Complex PTSD: Individuals with Complex PTSD may struggle with guilt, a sense of toxic shame and feeling different from others or even defective in some way. They may have a heighted “inner critic” that develops as a result of any verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse they went through in their lifetime. This inner critic might judge everything you do or say, prevent you from taking risks or pursuing your goals, can lead to a sense of learned helplessness and can often mimic the voices of any abusers you encountered, especially if you had toxic parents.

4. Hyperarousal and Hypervigilance
PTSD: You develop an excessive sense of alarm concerning your surroundings. You may experience a heightened startle reaction, increased irritability or aggression, engage in risky behavior, and have difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

Complex PTSD: Survivors with Complex PTSD can struggle with emotional regulation, suicidal thoughts and self-isolation. They may engage in self-harm, develop substance abuse addictions, and have a hard time trusting themselves and their intuition. They may end up in unhealthy, abusive relationships in what trauma expert Judith Herman calls “a repeated search for a rescuer” (Herman, 1997). They may have a deep mistrust of others but also a heightened attunement to changes in their environment as well as a hyperfocus on changes in microexpressions, shifts in tone of voice or gestures in others.

Treatment for PTSD and Complex PTSD
Treatment for PTSD and Complex PTSD requires highly skilled therapy with a trauma-informed and validating counselor who can help guide you safely through your triggers. Based on research, effective treatments can include some form of trauma-focused psychotherapy such as prolonged exposure therapy (PE) which involves facing the negative feelings you’ve been avoiding, cognitive processing therapy (CPT) which teaches the client to reframe their thoughts about the trauma, or Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy which involves processing the trauma by following a back-and-forth movement of light or sound. You can learn more about treatments for PTSD here.

Keep in mind that not every treatment is suitable for every survivor and should always be discussed with a counselor. Supplemental remedies may include trauma-focused yoga and meditation to heal parts of the brain affected by trauma and release trapped emotions in the body (van der Kolk, 2015).

Although PTSD is manageable with the right support and resources, recovery from Complex PTSD is admittedly a more lifelong process as it deals with trauma that usually originated from childhood, further exacerbated by traumas in adulthood. Grieving the losses associated with the trauma or traumas experienced is an essential part of the journey.

It is important to remember that healing has no deadline and that recovery is a cyclical, rather than linear, process. Every survivor recovers in their own way and is worthy of the support it takes to get to the other side of healing. TC mark

Good News Network: The Psychology of Healing Addiction, Abuse, and Trauma

The Psychology of Healing Addiction, Abuse, and Trauma

A bunch of resources worth checking out!

#happynews