Category Archives: PTSD

Childhood psychological abuse as harmful as sexual or physical abuse

From Medical News Today 10/10/2014

Children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and sometimes worse mental health problems as children who are physically or sexually abused, yet psychological abuse is rarely addressed in prevention programs or in treating victims, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

“Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training,” said study lead author Joseph Spinazzola, PhD, of The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts. The article appears in a special online issue of the APA journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

Researchers used the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Data Set to analyze data from 5,616 youths with lifetime histories of one or more of three types of abuse: psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse or emotional neglect), physical abuse and sexual abuse. The majority (62 percent) had a history of psychological maltreatment, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all the cases were exclusively psychological maltreatment, which the study defined as care-giver inflicted bullying, terrorizing, coercive control, severe insults, debasement, threats, overwhelming demands, shunning and/or isolation.

Children who had been psychologically abused suffered from anxiety,depression low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic and suicidality at the same rate and, in some cases, at a greater rate than children who were physically or sexually abused. Among the three types of abuse, psychological maltreatment was most strongly associated with depression, general anxiety disorder,social anxiety disorder>, attachment problems and substance abuse. Psychological maltreatment that occurred alongside physical or sexual abuse was associated with significantly more severe and far-ranging negative outcomes than when children were sexually and physically abused and not psychologically abused, the study found. Moreover, sexual and physical abuse had to occur at the same time to have the same effect as psychological abuse alone on behavioral issues at school, attachment problems and self-injurious behaviors, the research found.

“Child protective service case workers may have a harder time recognizing and substantiating emotional neglect and abuse because there are no physical wounds,” said Spinazzola. “Also, psychological abuse isn’t considered a serious social taboo like physical and sexual child abuse. We need public awareness initiatives to help people understand just how harmful psychological maltreatment is for children and adolescents.”

Nearly 3 million U.S. children experience some form of maltreatment annually, predominantly by a parent, family member or other adult caregiver, according to the U.S. Children’s Bureau. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012 identified psychological maltreatment as “the most challenging and prevalent form of child abuse and neglect.”

For the current study, the sample was 42 percent boys and was 38 percent white; 21 percent African-American; 30 percent Hispanic; 7 percent other; and 4 percent unknown. The data were collected between 2004 and 2010 with the average age of the children at the beginning of the collection between 10 and 12 years. Clinicians interviewed the children, who also answered questionnaires to determine behavioral health symptoms and the traumatic events they had experienced. In addition, caregivers responded to a questionnaire with 113 items pertaining to the child’s behavior. Various sources, including clinicians’ reports, provided each child’s trauma history involving psychological maltreatment, physical abuse or sexual abuse.

Light Treatment Helps with Psychological Disorders

An article from KQCD about how EMDR helps PTSD

Doctors still aren’t sure how to cure post traumatic stress disorder, but St. Alexius has found a way to help patients by using a unique kind of psychotherapy.

“People often go blank…get relaxed,” says Neuropsychologist, Dr. David Brooks. “Most typically, even after the first set or two, people indicate that they’re feeling better.”

Simply put, the EMDR treatment works by asking patients a series of questions.

“What is the earliest thing in your life that happened that still really bothers you a lot when you think about it,” says Brooks.

Doctors take some notes, do some analyzing and then it’s time to see the light.

“When your eyes move this way, this side of your brain lights up and your eyes move this way,” says Brooks. “This side of your brain is activated. When you’re alternating it activates the hemispheres of the brain. That induces relaxation.”

Doctors say the patients’ negative thoughts usually don’t bother them again, but the treatment isn’t hypnosis.

“It doesn’t make people forget what happens, but it tends to take away the cloud,” says Brooks.

And not only does it take away those bad thoughts, it does it quickly.

“This tends to be very effective and very fast,” says Brooks. “Often in ten sessions or less we’re through everything. And sometimes in one or two or three sessions.”

EMDR isn’t a magical treatment, but it is an option for those who are struggling with something bigger than the human body can process by itself.