childhood trauma ptsd

Children deserve to feel safe and loved while they are growing up. A stable, supportive, and loving environment allows a child to develop trust bonds with their family members, knowing their loved ones have their back as they navigate childhood. For far too many children, this nurturing family life is not their reality. According to the National Children’s Alliance, almost 700,000 children suffer abuse each year in the U.S., with a large percentage of those experiencing neglect.

Childhood trauma can take many forms. Physical or sexual abuse, sudden death of a loved one, witnessing domestic abuse, experiencing a natural disaster, surviving a serious car accident, and other intense emotional experiences all constitute trauma. When a child is exposed to a traumatic event it leaves an indelible scar on their psyche, especially when it is a repeated trauma as in ongoing physical or sexual assault.

Eventually the child grows up and incorporates the lingering emotional fallout from having been traumatized in their younger years into their adult behaviors and psyche. Childhood trauma PTSD is often the result of unresolved psychological harm. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that results in maladaptive behaviors in order to cope with the residual pain. Getting to the bottom of the childhood trauma and working through the emotional scars provides the roadmap toward resolving adult dysfunctional behaviors.

About Childhood Trauma

When a child experiences a traumatic event, or continuing trauma, their ability to process and cope becomes overwhelmed by the sense of danger and fear of injury. A child has not yet formed the coping mechanisms needed and becomes unable to process the threat or emotional pain psychologically. Instead, many children who have been exposed to trauma develop certain symptoms of PTSD, including:

  • Fear of dying
  • Bad dreams, nightmares, night terrors
  • Wetting the bed although formerly potty trained
  • Expressing emotional reactions when exposed to triggers or reminders
  • Irritability, agitation
  • Angry outbursts, violent behavior
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Extreme emotional reactivity
  • Loss of interests in activities once enjoyed
  • Physical complaints, such as stomach distress and headaches
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Clingy behavior
  • Regressing to younger age

In response to trauma, children adapt certain methods of coping with its after affects.  Depending on the degree of the threat or harm, the developmental state of the child when it happened, the child’s innate ability to cope with adversity, and the child’s support system, PTSD will develop or not.

Childhood Trauma PTSD Connection

If the child does retain the emotional damage caused by a traumatic event(s) in childhood they will likely carry the residual effects into adulthood. This can result in interpersonal problems and general impairment in daily functioning.

Signs of PTSD in Adults

  • Emotional detachment
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Sexual promiscuity, early initiation of sexual activity, STDs
  • Higher incidence of smoking
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Hyper-arousal
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Withdraw socially
  • Irritability, hostility
  • Guilt
  • Loneliness
  • Trouble in relationships
  • Trust issues
  • Experience flashbacks
  • Avoids triggering situations, places, people

Adults with childhood trauma-related PTSD may seek out dysfunctional relationships where past childhood experiences are recreated because that is what feels familiar to them. They may have such a low self-esteem as a result of unresolved trauma that they believe they do not deserve happiness. They may develop a serious substance use disorder as a means of self-medicating their emotional pain. Until the adult with childhood-related PTSD works through their emotional pain with a therapist the disorder will continue to infect their quality of life.

Treatment for Childhood Trauma PTSD

When initially seeking help for treating PTSD, the individual may select either outpatient treatment through a private physician or an outpatient mental health program, or a residential treatment program. Often this decision as to where to obtain treatment for PTSD will be determined by the severity of the symptoms, whether there is a co-occurring disorder such as depression or addiction, and personal resources.

In treatment for PTSD the individual will engage in psychotherapy. The type of psychotherapy utilized will depend on the features of the PTSD, so it may be psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or exposure therapies, or a combination of these modalities. Therapy will likely involve both individual one-on-one sessions and group therapy sessions where the issues related to the PTSD can be discussed and shared with others.

In addition, some individuals may benefit from medication, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Holistic activities are helpful as well, assisting with stress-reduction and relaxation.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential Treatment for PTSD

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health center in Los Angeles, California that offers intensive treatment for adult survivors of childhood PTSD. The comprehensive program allows individuals struggling with trauma maladaptation to examine the pain sources and process the disturbing childhood events under the expert care of our compassionate psychiatric staff. Treatment includes intensive psychotherapy, group therapy, holistic and experiential activities, and medication management if applicable. For more information about our treatment program for childhood trauma PTSD, please connect with Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

difference between bipolar and manic depression

When wondering what is the difference between bipolar and manic depression it can be a bit confusing. These two terms are still used interchangeably, leaving the impression that they are two distinct mental health disorders. In reality, manic depression is the same disorder as bipolar disorder, but happens to be an outdated label. In 1980, the DSM-3 officially reclassified this particular disorder as bipolar disorder.

Individuals who struggle with bipolar disorder understand why it was once called manic-depressive disorder, as it manifests itself with features of both clinical depression and mania or hypomania. There are different degrees of severity of the disorder, leading to a total of four types of bipolar disorder to be listed in the DMS-5. Since there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression, let’s push past the labeling and talk about bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder that is considered a “mood disorder,” and features extreme shifts between moods and energy levels. Someone with this challenging condition may find that it can impair daily functioning, career stability, and relationships. According to Mental Health America, approximately 3.3 million adults in the U.S. struggle with this mental health disorder in any given year.

The intensive mood swings between mania and depression can be very disruptive in daily life, although there may be long periods of calm that separate these mood shifts. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are methods and medications that help individuals manage the symptoms and enjoy a productive life. In most cases, bipolar disorder is first diagnosed in the teen years or early adulthood, although there are cases of it being diagnosed in later years as well.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

To date, science has not yet been able to identify the exact cause of bipolar disorder. However, there are strong indications that there is a genetic component, as chances of developing the disorder are enhanced if a close family member has the condition. But even so, when studying identical twins there may be one twin with the disorder and the other who never develops it.

It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.

What Are the Symptoms of Mania?

The symptoms of mania include:

  • Very little sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritability
  • Excessive energy, hyperactivity
  • Intense euphoria
  • Overly ambitious undertakings
  • Exercising poor judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, with symptoms lasting four days or more but which do not cause severe impairment in daily functioning as mania does.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness, feelings of despair
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in weight
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Physical symptoms such as chronic digestive problems or headaches
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Suicidal ideation

Types of Bipolar Disorder

When an individual is being evaluated for bipolar disorder they will first undergo a physical exam to rule out any medical reason for the symptoms. Then using the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and various assessments, the mental health practitioner can pinpoint the specific type of bipolar disorder According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness there are four types of bipolar disorder. These include:

Bipolar I. Bipolar I disorder involves one or more manic episodes, with or without depressive episodes occurring. The mania must be severe enough that hospitalization is required and last a week or longer.

Bipolar II. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by the shifting between the less severe hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder involves chronic mood shifts between depressive and hypomanic lasting more than two years. There may be periods of normal mood as well, but those periods last less than 8 weeks.

Unspecified bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is present when the symptoms do not fit the other three diagnoses, but still involve episodes of unusual manic mood.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

While there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression labeling, both the mania and the depression must be managed. Once the particular type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed, a treatment protocol will be created for the individual. In most cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the first line of treatment. For those who have bipolar I, admission into a residential treatment program or hospitalization is the appropriate level of care.

Medication: Psychotropic medications are prescribed according to the predominant features of the bipolar disorder. These may include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotic medication.

Psychotherapy: Talk therapy and group therapy helps individuals process the disruption that their bipolar disorder causes in daily life and find solutions for managing relationships and other stressors better. CBT can assist the individual with shifting pessimistic thoughts that drives irrational behaviors to more optimistic thinking.

Family-focused therapy: Stress that is a common feature within families when a member has bipolar disorder can undermine recovery. This involves helping family members learn to communicate better, practice better problem solving skills, and manage anger and conflicts more effectively.

Stress-management: Teaching individuals with bipolar disorder to better manage their stress level is intrinsic to a positive outcome. These methods include deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness training.

Medical detox and addiction treatment for dual diagnosis: Substance use disorders often co-occur with bipolar disorder. If so, the individual will benefit from detox and addiction treatment in addition to the targeted treatment for bipolar disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Leading Provider of Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that treats individuals with bipolar disorder. What sets Elevation Behavioral Health apart from other residential programs is its “elevation” of treatment interventions to a more focused and comprehensive level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, supportive environment that allows them to heal. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood shifts, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, improving their level of functioning at school or work, and teach them methods to reduce stress and promote relaxation. For more information about whether there is a difference between bipolar and manic depression, or any other questions, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health at (888) 561-0868.

When Depression Becomes Debilitating

Anyone who has struggled through a period of deep melancholy can attest to the intense power of emotions it triggers. We all suffer the occasional emotional fallout associated with difficult life events or circumstances. Pain endured from loss of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, diagnosis of a serious medical condition, or a broken heart can sideline us for a period, these phases commonly referred to as “the blues.” Most will manage to wind through the disappointment, fear, or sadness and the low mood will eventually stabilize with no intervention required.

For others, a cluster of pronounced symptoms may linger long after the triggering event, refusing to let up no matter how much time has passed. Depression can cause severe fatigue, impairing the person’s ability to function at work or at home. Even getting out of bed is a chore for those with serious depression. When depression becomes debilitating it is important to ensure the person is receiving the professional treatment they need, as an increased risk of suicide can develop.

Treatment for major depressive disorder must involve an integrated program that includes both traditional evidence-based therapies and medication, as well as holistic and experiential activities that enhance the treatment process by complimenting psychotherapy. Depression can be successfully treated and managed with the right combination of interventions.

About Major Depressive Disorder

Although major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 16 million U.S. adults per year, only a small percentage of people actually seek out treatment. A stubborn stigma still surrounds mental health conditions, including depression, acting as a barrier to getting help. Some people may not know where to even begin to get help and instead continue to suffer in silence. As a result, some may begin to use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate as a means of masking the unbearable depression symptoms.

But treatment for MDD can be very effective, and should be sought out especially when depression becomes debilitating. The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing depression involves five or more of the following symptoms having been present most of the time for more than two weeks:

1. Persistent depressed or sad mood
2. Recent unexplained weight gain or loss
3. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
4. Fatigue
5. Lack of interest in the activities once enjoyed
6. Persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair
7. Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
8. Slowed thinking and motor skills
9. Obsessing about death or suicide

The cause of MDD is still widely unknown, although science has identified several potential factors in developing clinical depression. These include genetics, temperament, environmental factors, and brain chemistry/biology.

Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis, which indicates a co-occurring substance use disorder, is present in a significant number of individuals who suffer from depression. This may come about when the individual begins to use the substance in order to find relief from the symptoms of MDD. Alcoholism is the most common coexisting disorder with MDD, only adding to the person’s misery. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so instead of helping the individual, it only increases the intensity of their symptoms while also adding profound health risks.

A dual diagnosis creates a more complicated treatment strategy. It is now believed that, to achieve the best long-term treatment outcome both disorders, the MDD and the alcoholism, should be treated simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment requires specialized training, so treatment should be sought at dual diagnosis program when depression presents with a coexisting substance use disorder.

Treatment for Depression

There exists an industry standard within the field of mental health treatment for treatment of MDD. This traditionally includes both antidepressant therapy and psychotherapy. Antidepressants are plentiful, with about thirty different brands on the market for treating depression. Initially, a doctor will take a leap of faith in prescribing antidepressants for a patient, using their training and treatment criteria to select the medication best aligned with the patient’s needs. Antidepressants can take upwards of four weeks to begin to take effect, which can be frustratingly slow. If one drug does not show promise, the doctor will have the patient trial another drug, or may just adjust the dosage.

Psychotherapy involves talk therapy and is available in various modalities. Generally, in treating individuals with MDD, mental health practitioners may select a behavioral-based therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or a cognitive-based therapy such as psychodynamic therapy. There are two main functions of psychotherapy for the depressed patient, to help them explore potential underlying pain points, such as a past trauma or other distressing life event, and to help the patient reshape their internal thought-behavior messaging and responses.

Holistic Therapies for Depression

When depression becomes debilitating, it is in the complimentary therapies that the most yardage is gained. That is because these holistic activities help the individual gain a deeper perspective into their spiritual being, discovering new insights about themselves that can become therapeutic breakthroughs. These activities include such things as mindfulness training, guided meditation, yoga, journaling, art therapy, and massage therapy.

In addition to the experiential activities, overcoming depression is enhanced by regular cardio exercise, such as daily walks, dance cardio, hiking, cycling, swimming, or running. Couple exercise with a nutritious diet of lean proteins, leafy greens, fresh fruits, whole grain breads and pasta, seeds and nuts, as this Mediterranean diet will promote improved brain health.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides an Integrated Approach to Treating Depression

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health and dual diagnosis treatment center in Southern California. Nestled in a tranquil canyon above Malibu, California, Elevation Behavioral Health provides an intimate six-bed setting for individuals in need of healing from depression, instead of an cold, institutional setting. The spacious and beautiful 10,000 square foot home features unmatched luxury in both the interior and exterior grounds.

This mental health and wellness program for depression or dual diagnosis is built upon a foundation of proven therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and DBT. Added to that are holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation, to offer a fully integrated approach to depression treatment. When depression becomes debilitating, a serene, relaxing environment, compassionate therapists, and upscale accommodations can go a long way toward reintroducing joy in life. For more information, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

symptoms of severe ptsd

Anyone who has suffered through a traumatic event knows the lasting impact it can have on your mental state and your daily life. When a trauma occurs, such as the sudden death of a loved one, a serious accident, physical or sexual assault, living through a natural disaster, or a trauma related to combat, it imprints deeply on the memory and the soul. While most people will eventually process the painful emotions and move forward, others may remain stuck in the distressing memories and pain of the trauma.

As a result, some of these individuals may find themselves turning to alcohol or drugs to help them relieve the emotional pain, depression, and anxiety that they live with. Some may find that they struggle to function at work or struggle socially due to the lingering effects of the trauma. These individuals are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thankfully, there are highly effect treatment strategies that can help manage the symptoms of severe PTSD.

About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health disorder within the anxiety disorders spectrum. It can result after experiencing or witnessing a deeply traumatizing event. After being exposed to the trauma, those with PTSD continue to experience troubling after effects for a period lasting more than a month afterward, or will experience the symptoms of PTSD as a delayed response, sometimes months later.

For many years, it was thought that PTSD only pertained to veterans who had experienced horrific events in combat, coming back emotionally scarred. While veterans have higher rates of PTSD, with rates ranging between 10-30% depending on the war itself, PTSD is an anxiety disorder than impacts about 8% of the population at large, according to the National Institute of Health.

Symptoms of Severe PTSD

Symptoms of severe PTSD generally include four categories:

  • Intrusive memories. Unwanted thoughts or memories of the trauma are experienced repeatedly thought flashbacks, vivid memories, or nightmares.
  • Avoidance. In order not to trigger the distressing emotions of a past trauma, someone with PTSD will avoid any people, situations, or places that might trigger the disturbing memories. They will avoid discussing the trauma as well.
  • Hyper-arousal. The individual will be jumpy, easily irritated, is quick to anger, easily frightened, has an exaggerated startle response, and may suffer from insomnia. Substance abuse may be used to self-medicate these anxiety symptoms.
  • Negative thoughts. People suffering from PTSD may display a sense of hopelessness and negativity in their demeanor, and talk down about themselves. They may exhibit negative emotions such as anger, guilt, shame, and fear. They may struggle with relationships.
  • PTSD and a Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder

    A dual diagnosis is present when the PTSD, as a stand alone mental health disorder, is coexisting with a substance use disorder. The use of alcohol and benzodiazepines is a common method of self-medicating the distressing symptoms of severe PTSD. Unfortunately, as tolerance to the effects of the substance increase and consumption increases with it, addiction can develop. This only creates a more complicated treatment picture for individuals who are already struggling with PTSD.

    When a dual diagnosis exists, it is important to seek the professional help of a treatment provider that specializes in dual diagnosis. Both the PTSD and the substance use disorder should be treated simultaneously to effectively treat the individual and obtain a successful recovery result.

    How is Severe PTSD Treated?

    PTSD is treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs can help mitigate the intensity of the PTSD symptoms. These drugs can ease the fight-or-flight response that is so common in PTSD as well as allow for more restful sleep. Antidepressants used to treat PTSD include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Effexor. Anti-anxiety medications are from the benzodiazepine group of drugs and may include Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, or Valium.

    Psychotherapy can be very effective in helping individuals with PTSD, especially cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and prolonged exposure therapy. These types of therapy help the individual systematically process the traumatic event over a course of treatments while also working through the associated emotions and fears that are present.

    Adjunctive therapies have also proven effective in enhancing the effects of the psychotherapy. Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) involves the individual following a moving object with their eyes while discussing the traumatic event is discussed and processed. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a brain stimulation technique that has demonstrated promising results for treating people with TMS. Some experiential therapies, such as equine therapy, mindfulness exercises, or guided meditation have also been helpful for those with PTSD.

    How Lifestyle Changes Can Help PTSD

    Lifestyle changes can also be effective in helping individuals with PTSD. Reducing stress by making a career change or moving on from a dysfunctional relationship can help with the anxiety symptoms. It is important to recognize what areas in one’s life are contributing to excessive stress or anxiety, and to make a change.

    Getting regular exercise, especially cardio workouts, can help reduce stress and induce relaxation and improved sleep quality. These might involve a brisk daily walk, hiking, a spin class, dance cardio workouts, jogging or running, swimming, or cycling.

    Practicing stress-reducing activities, such as taking yoga classes or enjoying massage therapy, can also help improve overall mood and wellness. Eating a nutritious diet is also important in PTSD recovery. Limiting caffeine, sugar, and starchy foods can help regulate blood sugar and jittery behaviors. Eating a diet rich in lean proteins, green leafy vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, and nuts and seeds will provide the body and brain with essential nutrients for optimum mental health.

    Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Effective Treatment for PTSD

    Elevation Behavioral Health is a leading dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider in Los Angeles, California. Elevation Behavioral Health is an inpatient, private treatment facility overlooking the beautiful Agoura Hills landscape. In this luxury, intimate setting, individuals with PTSD or a dual diagnosis will receive the most effective therapeutic interventions within a compassionate, nurturing environment. For more information about how Elevation Behavioral Health can help you overcome PTSD, please call us today at (888) 561-0868.