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Childhood Sexual Abuse and Mental Health

Mental Health and Childhood Sexual Abuse – Don’t Carry the Secret

Recently I saw something on Facebook that was very sad.  It was a video of a 50 plus year old man named Scott – also called “Spider,” who told the story of his life through written cards, in a fashion similar to Ben Breedlove’s “This is my story” about his heart condition. In the video, this tough looking man, confessed the trauma of his own sexual abuse and the damage it had done to him over the years – drug abuse, divorce, culminating in an arrest for beating his child’s sexual predator with a bat.

The story was naturally sad but is all too common.  In fact, statistics shows that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested by the age of 18 and worse for girls with 1 in 3.  The other sad fact is that many, many children who are sexually abused don’t tell anyone.  Either they are threatened or ashamed – or both.  They carry the secret for much of their lives.

Trauma, abuse, neglect – biology didn’t account for its infliction on children.  As children, our brains develop best in a loving,
supportive environment with plenty of nutritional food and quality exercise so that our bodies become the best they can be.  Childhood Trauma - Mental HhealthAround the world we see the damage that poor nutrition, neglect and physical abuse can do to children.  What is not so obvious is the damage wreaked by sexual abuse – it is a hidden traumaSexual abuse is hidden by the child, hidden from the adults, hidden from other children, and sometimes even hidden by the child’s memory.

Secrets are always dark.  Carrying secrets can ruin a relationship or ruin a career.  Carrying secrets imposes a burden of stress on your body – your heart doesn’t work as well, your adrenal system gets burned out, your sleep is affected.  Carrying a secret like that can change a child’s brain.

Studies have shown that abuse or childhood trauma actually causes physical changes to the developing brain.  It can make the child unable to grow to what they would have been.

So what does this have to do with mental health?

The effects of childhood trauma are hard to predict.  Mental health is hard to identify – particularly the cause.  In some cases, we can easily point to the parents and say “Mom and Grandma have clinical depression; it is no surprise that the daughter has depression.”  Schizophrenia has been shown to be driven by over 100 genes and a child with one schizophrenic person has a 13 percent chance of developing the disorder.  Some people are “born” alcoholics in that they are missing an enzyme that allows them to process alcohol properly and will nearly always become addicted if they drink.

In other cases – we can’t identify the cause.  You have some cases of mental disorders that develop in people with perfect childhoods.  You have people with horrible experiences who are remarkably healthy – rare, but true.  In many cases though, someone with a history of child abuse will develop some mental disorder – but the type is very hard to predict.

In “Spider’s” case, he became a drug addict, had an anger problem and felt that he had to prove he could “conquer” women (his own words), leading to the destruction of his family.  Likely he suffered from depression, anxiety disorder, and possibly Mental Health - Child AbusePost-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Telling the “secret”, not carrying the weight may, just may have kept him from his self-destructive behavior.  Unfortunately, it may not have stopped his daughter from being a victim, but it might have allowed him better tools than a bat to deal with her problem.

In severe cases, extreme trauma can actually cause the personality to “split,” in “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID), which was previously called “Multiple Personality Disorder” (MPD).

(Photo-source: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/08/scott_spider_spideralamode_facebook_molest.php)

Sexual abuse has another problem – that children are often disbelieved which worsens the trauma.  Unlike physical abuse, unlike neglect, unlike starvation – there are no “obvious” signs.  There are signs, but you have to know what they are.  Children who have been sexually abused do exhibit signs:

•    changes in behavior or personality type – a normally outgoing child becomes withdrawn, a normally gregarious child becomes angry and sullen
•    bed wetting and nightmares (oddly the bed-wetting may be punished)
•    refusal to go to school, church, sports or club activities or to a certain friend’s house
•    sudden clinginess or a sudden desire to be left alone

Too often, adults don’t ask.  Too often, children don’t tell.  Sadly, sometimes adults won’t listen.  If you know of a child that has
sudden behavioral changes – ask.  If you are an adult, believe.  If you are a victim, tell.  Even at a late date, telling can change your life and resolve some of your “issues.” I think in the end, “Spider’s” main message was “tell your kids to tell.”

What does this have to do with mental health?

Sexual abuse can contribute to:

PTSD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia, Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Attachment Disorder… and many more.

History of Child Abuse – Free PDF

Melissa Lind

Anxiety and Sleep

Hard to live with anxiety without a healthy sleep pattern

Among the many things that can cause insomnia, anxiety is the number one culprit. No matter how tired your mind and body may feel, when the house gets quiet, and you get still, your mind will go into overdrive — with worry — if you are suffering from anxiety.

This scenario happens because there is nothing else to occupy our minds. During the day, we have tasks and activities that keep our minds engaged and away from the worry in many cases. Anxiety and SleepBut at night, when all gets quiet, our minds are free to focus on other worries.

Your first instinct may be to ask your doctor for sleeping pills, and there are many good sleeping pills available on the market that are mild enough to help you sleep, but gentle enough that you don’t feel drugged the next morning. The newer sleeping pills are even nonaddictive, making them great to use for temporary insomnia or long-term insomnia.

However, there are a couple of things that you can try before you turn to chemical help as well. Taking a hot bath before bedtime helps many people. Beware, however, that for some people, taking a hot bath only serves further to energize the mind and body. As with other things in life, this has a different effect on different people.

You can learn some deep breathing exercises that you can practice when you lie down in bed at night. With deep breathing exercises, your mind will be focused on the breathing, and not have any room to focus on worries. The breathing will make it easier to fall asleep.

You should also have a regular bedtime and a regular wake up time. Try not to stay up past the bedtime that you have set for yourself, and don’t sleep past your usual wake up time. If you do, this will put your body on a schedule, and even if your mind is worried, your body has a better chance of taking over and stick to its plan.

Finally, make some gentle noise. Turn the fan on. It doesn’t have to be blowing on you — it is a soft noise from the fan that you need. When you lay down, focus your attention on the hum of the fan. You can also try “boring” yourself to sleep with a book. The book should be boring. The process of reading will occupy your mind, but the boring book will have your eyes closing before you know it.

Deep breathing exercises can help you to fall asleep.

A healthy sleep pattern can help against anxiety attacks

Vitamins for Your Mental Health

Vitamins help you body in a number of different ways.

First published on http://bipolarmentalhealth.com

Many people do not realize that vitamins are also crucial for helping the health of your mind. Depression is one of the many mental illnesses that can really help to ruin a person’s life if left untreated. If you are hoping to deal with your depression in a way that is healthy to your body but does not include the use of drugs, you might want to gain a better understand of just how vitamins can work for your depression.

Vitamin supplements can help you fight your depression.

Norwegian Salmon - Vitamin B12 FoodFirst and foremost, study the B vitamins.

B-complex vitamins are essential to your well-being, including your mental and emotional health. They are water-soluble, which means that they cannot be stored in the body over time to be used at a later date, and so you must eat foods rich in B vitamins every day or take vitamin supplements.

B-vitamins that could cause or add to your depression, include thiamin, which provides energy to your brain, and pantothenic acid, which is crucial in the formation of certain hormones that suppress depression.

Most other B vitamins affect your mental and emotional state as well, and because they are broken down in the body by alcohol and sugar, many people find it a struggle to eat enough food rich in the B vitamins. You should talk to your doctor about vitamin supplements in these areas in order to treat your depression.

Vitamin C is also extremely important in the fight against depression.

Normal levels are usually easy to achieve in the body, but you might find that you need a boost from vitamin supplements if you have recently had surgery or an inflammatory illness. Lack of vitamin C is common if you are stressed or pregnant, so be particularly observant of your depression during these times of life.

A variety of minerals, like magnesium, calcium, and zinc can also help you to fight your depression. The bottom line is that it is important for you to talk to a doctor if you believe that you are depressed.

Vitamin supplements and medical care can help you to fight depression in many cases. You doctor will be able to recommend brands that are of high quality and instruct you on how to take the vitamin supplements so that your body can get all of the nutrients it needs to stay happy and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Powerful Tips To Help Manage Everyday Stress

Powerful Tips To Help Manage Everyday Stress

Often times stress will manifest when we carry over yesterday`s concerns into our present day concerns. An accumulation will almost always end up in a high stress level. Therefore, we must be able to “dump” all of our problems from the previous day or days and concentrate wholly on our today.

So here are three stress busting tips for you:

– Stress Busting Tip #1

Resolve right now to release every thought from yesterday and be only mindful of the now…. This thought only…This Tunnel brainbreath…This moment. Take in three very deep breaths and slowly release each one.

At the same time feel each and every concern, each and every problem, and each and every unresolved moment, begin to dissolve. You can deal with them at a later time. For now, you are only to be in this very moment.

Now go to your inner quiet place. Go deep inside to a place where you feel that you are at peace and then just relax and breathe in deeply and enjoy the feeling of being at one and at peace within yourself.

Use this special time and place to be calm. Free your mind and body of all worry, all regret, all disappointment, all anger and grief.

– Stress Busting Tip #2

Next, think of one particular act, such as rocking your baby, taking a quick stroll, raking the leaves, and do that one simple thing. All the while, your mind is quiet and calm, and you are within in your particular place.

Practice this act of quiet and calm each day and you will see that you will accomplish so much more. At the first sign of being stressed, go back to this mindful, quiet place and start all over again until you have reached your inner place of calm.

– Stress Busting Tip #3

Mental HealthThe very best thing that you can do for yourself is to eat, drink and rest – to your health!

Stress is easily brought on by not eating and drinking properly. When you don’t get the number of hours of sleep that you need each night, you are only setting yourself up for additional stress.

Limit the amount of salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol in your diet. Drink plenty of clean, pure water each day and do at least moderate exercise each day. This will breathe new life into your skin, hair and will nourish all of your vital organs.

Take time to breathe properly! Take deep belly breathes to send pure oxygen to all of your body. Laugh and then laugh some more. It is food for the soul! Spend time doing the things that please you most. Engage in healthy and fulfilling relationships and work on problems that would erode the closeness that you have with someone special.

When we are content and living a balanced life everyday stresses seem to pale in comparison. We are better equipped to deal with the unexpected.

You can take control today! Isolate only one particular stressor in your life and then work on it until you regain control. At the very least, have some new hope!

We have special interests in bipolar disorder, causes – questions and answers about being bipolar, being stressed, depression, anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and mental health in general.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

So, what causes Bipolar disorder?

It appears to be an interplay of genetic and physiological factors, coupled with stressful triggers, that causes Bipolar disorder…

Bipolar doctor

Manic depression, also called bipolar disorder, causes severe mood swings that can last for weeks or even months.

Everyone feels happy or sad sometimes. For someone with manic depression, however, these mood swings are much more intense. Scientists have not identified a single factor what causes bipolar disorder. Instead, it may have one or more of several different causes. These may be broken down into genetic, environmental and physiological causes.

There are three types of manic depression.

Bipolar Type I is characterized by at least one manic episode. A manic episode is a feeling of intense elation, restlessness and loss of inhibitions and over-activity. Sufferers during a manic episode may sleep for only three or four hours a night if at all.

Bipolar Type II, where there may be frequent episodes of depression with only mild manic episodes (called hypomania). Rapid cycling involves four or more mood swings over the period of a year.

Finally, there is Cyclothymia, where the mood swings last longer but they are less severe.

Genes is considered to be a contributing factor.

If one of your relatives has manic depression, there is a reasonable chance that you will develop it, too. Chromosome numbers 6 and 8 appear to have been implicated. Children of bipolar parents have an eight percent chance of developing the condition, compared with one percent in the general population.

A chemical imbalance in the brain may cause the disorder. Nerve signals travel from one neuron to another by way of chemicals called neurotransmitters. These include norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. It is possible that excess levels of norepinephrine may cause a manic episode.

During a depressive episode, levels of this neurotransmitter may be excessively low. The picture, however, is not that simple, as there are other neurotransmitters involved.

Mood swings can also be triggered by stress. Abuse; either physical, emotional or sexual, may trigger an episode. Bereavement or the breakdown of a close relationship may also be a trigger.

Not all stressful triggers are negative experiences. A positive change, such as a marriage or a birth can also make a contribution.

Once diagnosed, the condition can be treated or controlled, although certain risk factors may trigger a recurrence. Failure to comply with medication carries a high risk of recurrence, as do alcohol or drug abuse. Other risk factors include poor support systems. For example, the lack of caring friends or relatives or an erratic lifestyle.

Manic depression can lead to psychosocial disturbances.

For example, Bipolar Type I and Bipolar Type II are associated with a high absentee rate at work. There is also a higher rate of suicide attempts and hospital admissions with these conditions. While both conditions have high rates of attempted suicides, Type II sufferers seem to have fewer hospital admissions than Type I, and consequently miss fewer days at work.

So, what causes bipolar disorder? It appears to be an interplay of genetic and physiological factors, coupled with stressful triggers.

Complying with medication, adopting a stable lifestyle, and developing healthy coping strategies, may all keep the condition under control.

It is essential to consult a medical professional and not attempt self diagnosis.