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Poor gut help has been linked with an increased risk of Autoimmune Diseases, depression and anxiety, obesity, and decreased longevity due to chronic disease but how does one get a good (vs. bad) gut? As it turns out, some of it is out of your control, but the majority is completely within your power.

Non-modifiable Factors to Good Gut Heath

Your gut health starts early on. Though there is still some debate on whether your initial gut health is dependent on your mom’s weight during her pregnancy, researchers do know that the mode of birth is a big first factor. Vaginally born babies have more diversity early on (due to passing through the birth canal and picking up mom’s bacteria along the way) and this continues if mom breastfeeds baby as well. What you were fed early on in life has an impact as well.  Other factors leading to an unhealthy gut may be living in an environment that was ultra clean, and lack of exposure to places outside the home. As a baby, you have no control over these early years but as you grown older, YOU can make choices to make your gut as healthy as possible. Here’s how.

The Tools to Getting a Good Gut

Getting a good gut starts with what you chose to put in your mouth every day. Feed your gut a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods, and healthy bacteria will flourish. Feed it sugar and processed foods, and the bad bugs (and subsequent disease) may take over. In fact, many experts believe that diet may be THE most important factor in determining gut health.

The Role of Fermented Foods and Probiotics

Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, Kefir, Kimchi, Natto, Miso and yogurt with live and active enzymes can all help to strengthen the gut and benefit overall health.  Probiotics may also impact health and are usually ingested through a supplement. In addition to helping overall health, probiotics may benefit individuals with depression as well. A 2018 study found that individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found relief from both depression and adverse digestive issues when they took a probiotic. As with all supplements, talk to your physician before starting a probiotic supplementation regimen. 

Your gut is in your hands. Every time you put something in your mouth, you’re telling your gut how important health is to you. The Meadows Behavioral Healthcare family of programs realize that food choices affect the overall success of treatment. Many nutrients have connections with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Stay tuned for next month’s fuel column where I’ll cover all the reasons why you shouldn’t fear fat!

By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, Senior Fellow of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare

https://www.kristinkirkpatrick.com/

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Relational trauma can be a confusing issue to deal with, partly because it is cumulative, it is not one incident but many small attitudes, incidents, and dynamics that span time. It’s easy to lose track of when something happened, how often it happened or what exactly it was that was painful, particularly if the trauma was some form of neglect, emotional abuse or disinterest. Filling in a timeline helps to make these issues and dynamics visible. It can also reveal which were significant incidents, which were ongoing dynamics and what periods felt relatively safe and happy.

Next to or within each five-year span write a few words that refer to some thing, some relationship dynamic, or some ongoing situation that you experienced as traumatic. Note: neglect can be traumatic as well as abuse, divorce in the family, addiction, siblings or parents leaving, accidents, hospitalizations, family illness, etc. . . . the idea here is to understand how you experienced it, not whether or not it fits some criteria as to what is formally called trauma.Write in whatever comes to mind in this catagory we’re discussing in the appropriate lines.

0 yrs _________________________________________________________________

5 yrs___________________________________________________________________

10 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

15 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

20 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

25 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

30 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

35 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

40 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

45 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

50 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

55 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

60 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

65 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

70 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

75 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

80 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

85 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

90 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

95 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

100 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

Answer the Following Questions:

What jumps out at you as significant when you look at your timeline?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

What was a particularily difficult period in your life?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

What were the silver linings, what were the gifts of trauma?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Were there periods that were relatively easy and good?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

What painful relational dynamics from the past are you still living out today?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Inner Child Work: Having an Inner Dialogue

Instructions: “Mentally reverse roles” with yourself anywhere along the Trauma Time Line continuum and write a journal entry speaking “as” that part of self, e.g., “I am Shahara, I am eight years old and I am” or “I am Hank, I am around thirteen and I just . . .” After you have completed your journal entry “answer back” from your “adult role” of today. In other words, begin a journaling dialogue between the two parts, your childhood self and your adult self and allow your adult to help your child or adolescent self learn to talk about your experience rather than hide it from your adult self and allow your adult self to listen to, support, and guide your child self.

CHILD/ADOLESCENT ROLE: I am ______________. I am ___ years old and I .

___________________________________________________________________

ADULT ROLE: (Answering back to your child self from your adult self)

___________________________________________________________________

CHILD/ADOLESCENT ROLE: I am ______________. I am ___ years old and I .

___________________________________________________________________

ADULT ROLE:

___________________________________________________________________

CHILD/ADOLESCENT ROLE: I am ______________. I am ___ years old and I .

___________________________________________________________________

ADULT ROLE:

___________________________________________________________________

End this exercise by writing a few sentences to yourself as a child from where you are today, what you know now that you didn’t know then.

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________


Written by  Tian Dayton, Ph.D. and Senior Fellow at The Meadows

https://www.tiandayton.com/

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Relational trauma can be a confusing issue to deal with, partly because it is cumulative, it is not one incident but many small attitudes, incidents, and dynamics that span time. It’s easy to lose track of when something happened, how often it happened or what exactly it was that was painful, particularly if the trauma was some form of neglect, emotional abuse or disinterest. Filling in a timeline helps to make these issues and dynamics visible. It can also reveal which were significant incidents, which were ongoing dynamics and what periods felt relatively safe and happy.

Next to or within each five-year span write a few words that refer to some thing, some relationship dynamic, or some ongoing situation that you experienced as traumatic. Note: neglect can be traumatic as well as abuse, divorce in the family, addiction, siblings or parents leaving, accidents, hospitalizations, family illness, etc. . . . the idea here is to understand how you experienced it, not whether or not it fits some criteria as to what is formally called trauma.Write in whatever comes to mind in this catagory we’re discussing in the appropriate lines.

0 yrs _________________________________________________________________

5 yrs___________________________________________________________________

10 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

15 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

20 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

25 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

30 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

35 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

40 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

45 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

50 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

55 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

60 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

65 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

70 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

75 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

80 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

85 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

90 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

95 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

100 yrs ___________________________________________________________________

Answer the Following Questions:

What jumps out at you as significant when you look at your timeline?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

What was a particularily difficult period in your life?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

What were the silver linings, what were the gifts of trauma?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Were there periods that were relatively easy and good?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

What painful relational dynamics from the past are you still living out today?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Inner Child Work: Having an Inner Dialogue

Instructions: “Mentally reverse roles” with yourself anywhere along the Trauma Time Line continuum and write a journal entry speaking “as” that part of self, e.g., “I am Shahara, I am eight years old and I am” or “I am Hank, I am around thirteen and I just . . .” After you have completed your journal entry “answer back” from your “adult role” of today. In other words, begin a journaling dialogue between the two parts, your childhood self and your adult self and allow your adult to help your child or adolescent self learn to talk about your experience rather than hide it from your adult self and allow your adult self to listen to, support, and guide your child self.

CHILD/ADOLESCENT ROLE: I am ______________. I am ___ years old and I .

___________________________________________________________________

ADULT ROLE: (Answering back to your child self from your adult self)

___________________________________________________________________

CHILD/ADOLESCENT ROLE: I am ______________. I am ___ years old and I .

___________________________________________________________________

ADULT ROLE:

___________________________________________________________________

CHILD/ADOLESCENT ROLE: I am ______________. I am ___ years old and I .

___________________________________________________________________

ADULT ROLE:

___________________________________________________________________

End this exercise by writing a few sentences to yourself as a child from where you are today, what you know now that you didn’t know then.

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________


Written by  Tian Dayton, Ph.D. and Senior Fellow at The Meadows

https://www.tiandayton.com/

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The report, titled “Major Depression: The Impact on Overall Health,” found that diagnoses of major depression swelled by 33 percent between 2013 and 2016, based on data from more than 41 million Blue Cross Blue Shield members. The total of commercially insured Americans suffering from major depression has topped 9 million, according to the research. Depression rates were highest among young people, leaping by 63 percent for teens and 47 percent for millennials. (Pew Research defines millennials as individuals born between 1981 and 1996.) The rates were also twice as high among women as men.

“We are concerned that depression rates are continuing to accelerate, and we need to do more work to identify the underlying cause,” says Trent Haywood, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a federation of local Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

 

Link to Other Health Problems, Costs

The May 10 report also found that people suffering from depression often have other health problems as well. More than 8 out of 10 people who live with major depression deal with one or more serious chronic health issues.

These health problems come at a cost. The study revealed that, on average, a person with major depression spends more than twice as much on healthcare annually as someone without depression ($10,673 versus $4,283 in 2016).

Why Are Young People Hit Hardest?

The soaring depression rates among teens and millennials are especially alarming, according to Dr. Haywood, because the condition could have an impact on their health for decades to come.

Karyn Horowitz, MD, a psychiatrist affiliated with Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, says that technology may be a contributing factor.

“Increased use of electronics — video games more commonly in boys and social media and texting more commonly in girls — can lead to increased conflict both within the home and with peers,” Dr. Horowitz says. “For some kids, video game use can become an addiction, leading to social isolation, poor school performance, and impaired sleep.”

While the rate of depression diagnoses shot up 47 percent for boys, the rate climbed by 65 percent for girls. The higher depression levels among girls may be linked to a greater risk of cyberbullying on social media, according to Horowitz.

She advises parents and caregivers to be watchful of changes that might indicate that their children are depressed. Warning signs may include shifts in mood (not just sadness but symptoms such as increased irritability), sleep disturbance, changes in eating patterns (too much or too little), decline in academic performance, and social isolation.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend annual screenings for depression in all children ages 12 and older.

Are Women More Depressed?

The data found that women are diagnosed with major depression at double the rate of men (6 percent and 3 percent, respectively).

Ted Guastello, a certified addiction treatment counselor and vice president of operations at Newport Academy, a teen mental health facility, speculates that the difference may be, in part, because women are more likely than men to report signs of depression.

“Men may have depression, but it’s often harder for them to give a voice to it, recognize it, and deal with it,” says Guastello. “There may be many more men out there who are depressed, but they don’t report it.”

How Depressed Are People Where You Live?

The Blue Cross Blue Shield data indicates that depression rates vary widely from state to state.

Utah, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Maine had the highest rates of major depression diagnosis at about 6 percent, while Hawaii had the lowest at 2 percent.

What’s behind these differences is unclear. Haywood says, “It could be that some of the higher rates of depression in states are due to higher reporting requirements, or it could be there are fundamental differences within these communities. We need to further explore.”

A Silver Lining?

Guastello suggests that higher depression numbers may indicate that more people are recognizing the need to seek assistance.

“Does this study show that we are more depressed as a culture, or is some of the stigma surrounding mental health starting to be peeled back and more people are getting help?” he says. “No matter what, people need to know that mental health needs to be a priority and there is help available.”

“The good news on all this, from my perspective, is that depression is manageable and treatable,” says Haywood. “If we can take intervention now, we should see the depression rate plateau and start to decelerate in a few years.”

Written by Don Rauf

Originally in Everyday Health

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It was certainly exciting to learn that the SAMHSA event aligned so closely with the mission of ACEs Connection: to accelerate the global ACEs science movement, to recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and to promote trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all communities and institutions. Strategies for making child-serving systems more trauma-informed is a subject near and dear to my own heart.

It was certainly exciting to learn that the SAMHSA event aligned so closely with the mission of ACEs Connection: to accelerate the global ACEs science movement, to recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and to promote trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all communities and institutions. Strategies for making child-serving systems more trauma-informed is a subject near and dear to my own heart.

Before coming to work for Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows as a Survivors Workshop facilitator, I worked with children and adolescents in residential treatment for seven years. The agency was amazing and provided consistent, compassionate, therapeutic and psychiatric long-term care for kids in the residential program. The agency also provided services for children and families in several equally effective programs. It was very rewarding and fun to work with the team, the children, and their families. Even though the children and adolescents returned to better home situations, I imagine that there are effects in their lives as adults because they had high ACEs scores (click here for your ACEs score).

Adults who have faced adverse childhood experiences such as physical, sexual and verbal abuse; physical and emotional neglect; a family member with addiction or mental illness; witnessing abuse; or losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason can find help in The Meadows family of programs and services. Adults with a history of childhood trauma may be resilient and have learned to adapt but often times they have problems with health, relationships, addictions, anxiety, or mood disorders.

Specifically designed to address childhood trauma, The Meadows signature workshop, Survivors,  is a five-day experience conducted in a group format. Survivors has been in existence for over 30 years and has served many thousands of inpatients as well as outpatients.

Prior to attending Survivors, participants complete a questionnaire covering the basics of their family while growing up. On the first day of the workshop, participants learn about Pia Mellody’s Developmental Immaturity Model.  I think Pia’s model is genius, and like to call it “the guidebook for life that we never got.” Participants gain insight into how the relational trauma and abuse during childhood affect their relationship with themselves and others.

From a very young age, even before we acquired speech, we learned to take the energetic pulse of our home. We learned to be sensitive to the moods, desires, and expectations of those around us. Being dependent on our caregivers for our survival, we often developed more sensitivity to the feelings of others than to our own. We also took in the messages that were given to us about who we needed to be and who we could not be.

As adults, we can feel confused about who we are or believe that we need to have another’s approval to feel okay.  We can think and feel that our value and worth is based on looking pretty or being the highest achiever. We can think that we have to achieve in specific ways to have value, and if we don’t, then we feel worthless. We can even believe that nothing we do is ever good enough. These painful struggles are a result of relational trauma and abuse.

The healing recovery work done is Survivors is not about blaming or bashing parents or other caregivers. It is truly about healing from the past in order to be more balanced and functional. Often the parenting styles are generational. The definition of abuse we use is “anything less than nurturing or experienced as shaming.”

The Survivors workshop is popular because it is effective. People walk away feeling lighter, more open, and connected with themselves after releasing the energy surrounding the trauma experiences. We often have individuals come to the workshop who have been referred by a family member or friend after having noticed the changes. Frequently, we hear workshop participants say, “Everybody should do this! Everyone can benefit from this!” and “This should be taught in schools.” People walk away with a sense that they have made a difference, not only in their own lives but in the family legacy that they pass on to future generations.

All of The Meadows programs provide trauma-informed treatment specific to the specialized program. It is a privilege to be a part of this premier provider of leading-edge trauma treatment. I feel very hopeful knowing that SAMHSA’s annual Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day spotlighted the need for trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies for children. This is a great step forward for the field of trauma treatment and future generations of children will benefit from this increased focus and funding. 

If you are interested in attending a Survivors workshop, please call our intake department at 1-800-244-4949.  For more information, click on the following link:

https://www.rioretreatcenter.com/workshops/emotional-trauma/survivors-i

By Nancy Minister, MC, Survivors Therapist

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We fall back on our more primitive systems of defense—such as fight, flight, or freeze—only when we fail to find a sense of resonance and safety in these early connections. (Porges, 2007). We have built into us our personal security system that assesses, in the blink of an eye, whether or not the situations that we’re encountering are safe or in some way threatening  (Porges, 2004). Neuroception, a term coined by Stephen Porges,  former Director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, refers to a perceptual mind/body system that has evolved over time to enable humans and mammals to establish mutually nourishing bonds and/or to tell us when we might need to prepare for danger. It involves our innate ability to use intricate, meaning-laden, barely perceptible mind-body signals to establish bonds and communicate our needs and intentions. While many of these communications are conscious, still more occur beneath the level of our awareness in that part of us that is our animal self (Porges, 2007) and these interactions, both conscious and unconscious, form a foundation upon which further intimate interactions grow.  

       According to Porges (2004), our neuroception tells us if we can relax and be ourselves or if we need to self protect. If the signals that we’re picking up from others are cold, dismissive, or threatening, that neuroceptive system, which is part of how we process relational trauma, sets off an inner alarm that is followed by a cascade of mind-body responses honed by eons of evolution to keep us from being harmed.   In trauma engendering interactions, “people are not able to use their interactions to regulate their physiological states in relationship . . . they are not getting anything back from the other person that can help them to remain calm and regulated. Quite the opposite, the other person’s behavior is making them go into a scared, braced-for-danger state. Their physiology is being up-regulated into a fight/flight mode,” says Porges.  This kind of failure to successfully engage and create a sense of safety and cooperation can be experienced as traumatic by a helpless and vulnerable child.     

   Relational trauma can occur at very subtle levels of engagement or a lack there of, as well as in its more obvious forms of living with abuse, neglect, illness, or addiction.  And this mind-body system sets off the same kinds of alerts whether we’re facing the proverbial sabor-toothed tiger in the pine forest or a “sabor-toothed” parent, older sibling or spouse in our living room or bedroom.     

    Trauma in the home and in our early experiences has a lasting impact. When those we rely on for our basic needs of trust, empathy, and dependency become abusive or neglectful, it constitutes a double whammy. Not only are we being hurt or dismissed, but the very people we’d go to in order to restore our sense of calm and connectional the ones causing it. Our neuroceptive system is up regulating and bracing for danger with the very people we wish to run to for safety. “Trauma impels people both to withdraw from close relationships and to seek them desperately (Herman, 1997). The profound disruption in basic trust, the common feelings of shame, guilt, and inferiority, and the need to avoid reminders of the trauma that might be found in social life, all foster withdrawal from close relationships. But the terror of the traumatic event intensifies the need for protective attachments; therefore, the traumatized person frequently alternates between isolation and anxious clinging to others”, says Judith Lewis Herman in her book Trauma and Recovery.

      Later as adults when we partner and parent, we important our attachment styles from early family relationships into our new adult families, we tend to repeat and recreate in other words, what we experienced as children or, in one of those psychological conundrums exactly the opposite.

Clients who have been traumatized in their intimate relationships can find it difficult to simply be in comfortable connection with others. The dependency and vulnerability that is so much a part of  both adult and childhood intimacy can trigger a person who has been traumatized in their early interactions into the defensive behaviors that they relied on as children to stay safe and to feel whole rather than splintered. To heal this form of relational trauma, we need to understand what defensive strategies we used to stay safe as kids and then shift these behaviors to be more engaged and nourishing both within our relationships and ourselves as adults. After all, if we constantly brace for danger and rejection, then we are likely to create it. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How did I experience the arms, gaze and connection of my mother, father and other primary caregivers (animals may also have been experienced as primary attachment figures).
  2. How am I recreating these experiences both of a sense of safety and “braced for danger” in my intimate relationships today?
  3. Which styles are undermining closeness?
  4. What can I do to foster change first within myself and within my relationship?

      

          When emotional pain remains split off, it becomes somehow invisible to the naked eye, but it does not disappear. When we enter committed relationships in adulthood, our powerful urge to attach, triggers our early experiences of attachment and we tend to do what we know, we recreate our attachment patterns from childhood of yesteryear, relationships in our adult relationships of today.We need to repair childhood hurt in some way, and if repair doesn’t happen at or near to the moment of the pain, it will need to happen later. Being in loving and committed relationships and raising children is nature’s second chance at repairing our own childhood wounds.  But without understanding the dynamics of how early pain can become an unconscious driver for recreating the same kinds of dysfunctional patterns that we grew up with, we may easily and rather seamlessly bring the most painful parts of our past into our relationships today. And we won’t even recognize what we’re doing.

References

Herman, J. L.  1992.  Trauma and Recovery.  New York: Basic Books, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Porges SW. (2007). The polyvagal perspective. Biological Psychology 74:116-143.

                                                                                  Schore, A.N. (1999). Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self. Mahwah, NJ

Written by: 

Tian Dayton PhD

Advocacy Message by Sis Wenger CEO of NACoA

https://www.tiandayton.com


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Brent

Brent grows up with a highly critical father. Nothing Brent does is ever good enough. His father routinely compares Brent to his two older brothers, who are both excellent athletes and consistently get high grades (TRAUMA). In contrast, Brent struggles in school, and his father repeatedly accuses him of being stupid and lazy (TRAUMA). (Later, in his twenties, Brent discovers he has a learning disability.) Brent’s mom, a professional singer who is on the road most of the time, is distant, busy, and preoccupied (TRAUMA). She leaves most of the child-rearing to her husband. In high school, Brent becomes part of a group who spend much of their time partying together. Collectively, they find solace in drinking and smoking weed (USING DRUGS TO SELF-MEDICATE). By the time Brent is twenty-five, he is addicted to alcohol and pills (ADDICTION). One night, driving home drunk from a party with his buddy Gary, the car hits a patch of ice, spins out, and crashes into a deep culvert. Gary breaks both legs (TRAUMA); Brent suffers a serious brain injury (TRAUMA). He is prescribed pain pills, which only further fuels his out-of-control drug use (ADDICTION).

                                         

Kim

Kim grows up with a severely alcoholic father and a hypercritical mother (TRAUMA). From the time Kim is in kindergarten, her mother is preoccupied with Kim’s body and weight. Soon after Kim turns nine, her dad goes into rehab and stops drinking. A month after that, her mom reveals that she has had a

long-time boyfriend and runs off with him (THE TRAUMA OF ABANDONMENT). For the next eight months, Kim’s parents fight over her in an angry and acrimonious divorce (TRAUMA).

At fourteen, Kim is exercising excessively to keep herself thin. She binges on junk food, then sticks her finger down her throat and vomits it up (BULIMIA NERVOSA). She also begins to party—drinking excessively and taking large amounts of opiates. One night, when drunk, she passes out and is raped by several guys at a party (TRAUMA). One of them posts a video of the rape on social media (TRAUMA).

Kim’s humiliation, shame, and inability to reach out to her parents continue as does the partying, binging, bulimia, drinking, drug use, and the sexual assaults (TRAUMA). By age twenty-four, Kim uses heroin and alcohol addictively (ADDICTION). By age thirty-one, she has attempted suicide three times.

Julie, Leo, and Bryce

In late 1998, Julie fell while riding a horse (TRAUMA). Her pelvis was seriously injured, and her doctor prescribed oxycodone during her recovery. In the process, she became addicted to pain pills (ADDICTION). Three years later, Julie’s husband, a firefighter, was one of the first responders to the 9/11 attacks. He was in one of the towers when it collapsed; his body was never found (TRAUMA). Suddenly widowed, with traumatized boys ages seven and nine, Julie began to drink herself to sleep each night (ADDICTION). As the months and years passed, Julie’s drinking and pill usage kept her in bed longer and longer (ADDICTION). She became moody and unpredictable. The boys became more self-sufficient, asking less and less of her. This enabled Julie to take even more pills and alcohol (ADDICTION). By the time Leo, the oldest child turned fifteen, Julie was profoundly depressed, sometimes nearly manic, occasionally overly reactive, and at times disengaged from everything. She provided little structure or support for the boys other than meals, clothing, and an occasional hug (THE TRAUMA OF ABANDONMENT). In response, Leo threw himself into school and school-related activities. The younger boy, Bryce, stayed in his room, compulsively surfing the internet and playing video games, becoming steadily more isolated from everyone and everything. Eventually, through an intervention led by her physician, Julie was able to stop using and get into recovery. She woke up to an older son in community college who was quite responsible, and a younger son who was showing signs of gaming and porn addiction (ADDICTION).

The Bottom Line

Trauma and addiction routinely cause, encourage, and reinforce each other. Because they so often interact, they need to be treated together and not as two separate, unrelated conditions.

As a therapist, whenever I see one, I’ve learned to always look for the other. Even when trauma and addiction are quite serious, it is possible to recover from both.

Written by Claudia Black, Ph. D. Clinical Architect of the Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows

https://www.claudiablack.com/

Author: Unspoken Legacy: Addressing the Impact of Trauma and Addiction Within the Family

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PTSD is often missed, and trauma is frequently dismissed. It is no wonder that so many of us who struggle don’t know it. Many of us already think “what happened to me wasn’t that bad,” so PTSD is nowhere on our radar. Using specific language like the words “trauma” and “PTSD” isn’t about labeling but rather about serving as a compass for help. This PTSD Awareness Month, let’s work to get the truth out about posttraumatic stress disorder, thus, getting more help to more people:


1. Trauma can be viewed as anything less than nurturing that alters your view of yourself and how you relate to the world. Mike Gurr, Executive Director of The Meadows Ranch, tells patients, “If it’s important to you, it’s important.” 

2. Traumas not deemed PTSD-worthy, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), can lead to PTSD symptoms just as severe as traumas that do qualify. 

3. Among those who experience trauma, up to 20 percent will go on to develop PTSD.

 4. Those who develop PTSD are not weak. In fact, PTSD has a lot to do with genetics and biology. As one example, based on hormone levels, researchers can predict—prior to deployment—which soldiers will develop PTSD in the war zone.

5. Sexual assault, more common than combat or any other type of trauma, is most likely to result in PTSD.

6. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

7.  Some individuals who don’t meet the rather strict diagnostic criteria for PTSD in DSM-5 experience just as much impairment as those with full-blown PTSD. Researchers call this partial PTSD; it deserves help. 

8. One reaction during a trauma—lesser known than fight or flight—is freeze. Think deer in the headlights. Without seeking professional help, people who freeze during trauma might ask themselves for the rest of their lives, “Why didn’t I do anything?”

9. People who develop PTSD did do something during their trauma. They survived. Fighting, fleeing, and freezing are all biologically appropriate responses to a trauma.

10. The average lapse in time between the onset of PTSD symptoms and a diagnosis is twelve years!

11. PTSD is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety.

12. Known as delayed expression PTSD (or delayed onset), symptoms can surface years after the trauma happened. 

14. Although not included in DSM-5, clinicians and researchers widely agree that “complex PTSD” is a separate and unique form of the illness, one derived from exposure to multiple traumas, particularly in childhood.

15. People with PTSD are not crazy. PTSD is actually a normal reaction to an abnormal experience—a trauma.

16. PTSD can be passed on through DNA from parent to child, known as intergenerational trauma. Children of Holocaust survivors might struggle with PTSD symptoms even though they have never experienced a trauma directly themselves.

17. One of the greatest protectors against developing PTSD is social support.

18. People with PTSD are not dangerous. Many don’t even experience anger as a symptom.

19. PTSD looks different in everyone. Analyzing the various ways that the hallmark symptoms can manifest, there are 636,120 possible presentations of PTSD!

20. PTSD is no longer categorized as an anxiety disorder. Some with PTSD experience the disorder more as shame or grief-based and less as anxiety or fear.

21. Alongside PTSD often comes problems like eating disorders, substance use, depression, and insomnia.

22. Trauma can be stored in the body as chronic pain.

23. People with PTSD can’t just “get over it” any more than someone can just get over a broken leg. PTSD is a brain injury, one that needs treatment.

24. When people with PTSD are triggered, they have essentially lost access to their prefrontal cortex, the rational, decision-making part of the brain. This isn’t their fault, yet they can learn to take steps in accountability by seeking support.

25. Longtime “gold standard” evidence-based treatments for adults with PTSD include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Prolonged Exposure, and Cognitive Processing Therapy, all of which involve exposure to the trauma memory.

26. Avoiding trauma-related thoughts, feelings, situations, and things can be a central maintaining factor of PTSD. (e.g., If someone avoids driving after a car accident, the likelihood of developing PTSD increases.)

27. To heal, living an exposure-based life can be key. We need to approach thoughts, feelings, situations, and things that scare us. (e.g., In the previous example, with support, get out on the highway and drive.)

28. A newer, promising exposure-based treatment called Writing Exposure Therapy can be completed in as little as five sessions.

29. Somatic Experiencing® (SE), a body-oriented trauma treatment with a growing body of evidence, does not require a person to directly revisit trauma memories.

29. PTSD is not a life sentence. While the trauma can’t go away (it’s history), with treatment, PTSD symptoms can and do.

30. Posttraumatic growth describes the positive transformation that can grow out of adversity, out of trauma and PTSD.


I stopped seeing the therapist who encouraged me to drink wine for breakfast. Ultimately, I connected with excellent treatment providers, and I recovered from PTSD, albeit slowly. With help, research shows and personal experience proves, we can take our lives back from the treacherous illness. No one chooses to have PTSD, but people can and do choose to get better.

A Senior Fellow with The Meadows and advocate for its specialty eating disorders program, The Meadows Ranch, Jenni Schaefer is a bestselling author and sought-after speaker. For more information: www.JenniSchaefer.com


References:American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013).
D.M. Sloan, B.P. Marx, and D.L. Lee, “A Brief Exposure-based Treatment vs. Cognitive Processing Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Noninferiority Clinical Trial,” JAMA Psychiatry, 75(3) (2018): 233-239.E.C. Berenz and S.F. Coffey, “Treatment of Co-occurring Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Use Disorders,” Current Psychiatry Reports 14(5) (2012): 469–477.J. A. Gordon, “Update from the NIMH” (presentation given at the Anxiety and Depression Conference, Washington, DC, April 5-8, 2018).
M.J. Friedman, T.M., Keane, P.A. Resick, Handbook of PTSD, Second Edition: Science and Practice (New York, NY: Guilford Press, 2015).
National Center for PTSD (2016, October 3). How Common is PTSD? Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov
P. S. Wang, P. Berglund, M. Olfson, H.A. Pincus, K.B. Wells, and R.C. Kessler, “Failure and Delay in Initial Treatment Contact After First Onset of Mental Disorders,” National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 62 (2005).
R. A. Josephs, A.R. Cobb, C.L. Lancaster, H. Lee, and M.J. Telch, “Dual-hormone Stress Reactivity Predicts Downstream War-zone Stress-evoked PTSD,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, 78. (2017): 76-84.
R. Yehuda, N.P. Daskalakis, L.M. Bierer, H.N. Bader, T. Klengel, F. Holsboer,  E.B. Binder, “Holocaust Exposure Induced Intergenerational Effects on FKBP5 Methylation,” Biological Psychiatry, 80(5). (2016): 372-80.
S. E. Back, A. E. Waldrop, & K. T. Brady, “Treatment Challenges Associated with Comorbid Substance Use and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Clinicians' Perspectives,” American Journal of Addiction, 18. (2009): 15-20.

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Once you have the collage you like, take a screenshot of it and journal about these questions:

  1. Has my mood changed at all through collaging it and if so, in what ways?
  2. Does collaging my mood make it lighter or more conscious and if so what would you say about that?
  3. What parts of my collage pop out to me and why?
  4. What parts do I want to carry forward into my day?
  5. What parts do I want to change?
  6. What is the most positive light in which I can see my collage?

Hope you had fun…..pass it along….

Mood collage online tool: http://www.tiandayton.com/emotionexplorer/mood-collage

Click here for the Mood Collage

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What to Choose:

 

A Mediterranean Diet Pattern

Several studies show a connection between consumption of a Mediterranean diet and positive mood. Perhaps this is because the diet has such an impact on overall brain health. One study found that people that ate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains had lower rates of depression over time. These are just three of the main components of the diet, in addition to fish and skinless poultry, legumes, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts.  

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

An animal study out of the Indiana School of Medicine found that omega 3 supplementation could have a potential “therapeutic benefit” for both anxiety and alcohol abuse. Another demonstrated the impressive anti-inflammatory impact of regular consumption of fatty fish, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids. Inflammation is the base of the majority of diseases worldwide and plays a role in depression. Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids include chia, hemp, and flax seeds, walnuts, and lake trout.

 

Vitamin D

Several studies have linked vitamin D deficiencies to increases in depression. While vitamin D is poorly absorbed through food sources, it is well absorbed through the rays of the sun and supplementation with D3. Since spending too much time in the sun can increase the risk for melanoma, it is advised to have your vitamin D levels checked and then supplement with a D3 option. If you are taking a fish oil pill, you should pair the two together. Doing so will enhance the absorption of vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin.

 

Fermented Foods

Getting more fermented foods in the diet (such as tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and pickles) can enhance gut health. I’ll be focusing on the gut-mind connection in my next column but for now, consider adding some of these foods to your diet at least three times a week, or beginning a probiotic supplementation plan.

 

What to Ditch:

You now know which foods you should add to your diet, now let’s focus on the ones to take out. Sugar, fast, fried, and ultra-processed foods and trans fats should all be decreased in the quest for better mental health. That’s because these foods have been found in studies to be a bad mix for good mood. Additionally, sugar holds addictive properties and has been proven to increase the risk of several chronic conditions.

The Meadows Behavioral Healthcare family of programs realize that food choices affect the overall success of treatment. Many nutrients have connections with depression, anxiety, and addiction. Few treatment programs realize this connection and I am proud to be associated as a Senior Fellow of this organization.

Next month, I’ll be focusing on getting the best foods for a better gut!

Written By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, Senior Fellow of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare



https://www.kristinkirkpatrick.com/

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