Posted By: Courtney M
The Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why has caused much controversy since its release. The show centers on a high schooler, Hannah, who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for 13 people who contributed to her death. The tapes cycle through a lying boy who starts a rumor about Hannah, a backstabbing best friend, a rapist, and an unhelpful school counselor, to name a few. One by one, they have to listen to the reason they contributed to Hannah’s death and then pass it on to the next person on Hannah’s list.
Many people, including suicide prevention groups and survivors, have spoken out against the show. They say it romanticizes suicide and can be a trigger for someone who is going through a similar time in their life. However, the writers and directors of 13 Reasons Why speak out on its behalf to support their decision on how and why the show was created as it was. They say it needed to be shown in a way that is true to the experience that people have with suicide and was meant to get a conversation going about bullying, depression, sexual assault, and suicide. So should teens and young adults be watching this series? As a parent, you need to be aware of both sides of the argument to make the decision on whether you will let your son or daughter watch the show.
Reasons Why It Should Be Watched:
It shows how actions and words can significantly affect a person’s life. Bullying is a real problem in schools today, and this series brings to light the affects that bullying can have on teenagers. If you take anything away from this series it will be that kindness can save a life.
It portrays the pressures that young people experience at school’s that parents and adults often minimize or deny. The series brought to light the issues that teenagers go through in high school and may give parents the opportunity to start a conversation with their children about what is going on in their lives and what they are feeling.
It shows how much suicide can affect the family as a whole. When a person decides to commit suicide they often do it as a way to escape from the pain they are dealing with in their life. What they do not realize is that the pain does not go away after they are gone, but transfers over to the remaining family left without them there.
It offers hope to young people watching the show that they are not alone in their feelings. It shows that they are not the only one dealing with issues of depression or suicidal ideations. It is more common than they might believe and they should not feel ashamed for speaking up to someone about what they are going through.
Reasons Why It Should Not Be Watched:
The show portrays power being gained after suicide. Hannah did not feel as though she had control of what she was going through until after the tapes were sent to each person, forcing them to finally listen to her and do as she wished. This sends the wrong message to young adults that the only way to gain power in their situation is to commit the act.
It blames others for why she committed suicide. Many times the family and friends of someone who commits suicide has survivor’s guilt and blames themselves for the suicide whether they had reasons to or not. While some of those individuals in “13 Reasons Why” should be held responsible for their actions, it misleads people who are watching the show into believing that there is someone to blame for a suicide.
It showed a lack of options and alternatives to suicide. The show put a lot of weight on kindness being able to “fix” someone when in reality that person may need help from a professional in order to combat what they are going through. In the very last episode Hannah reaches out to a school counselor as a last ditch effort for help, but the counselor ended up not being able to help Hannah at all. This can send a message to young people in a similar situation that it is not worth it to reach out to an adult or professional in a time of need.
Experts believe that the show can lead to a contagion effect. Suicide prevention groups advise against showing specifics on how to commit suicide. When this is portrayed in the media, it can encourage copycat behavior. The final episode of “13 Reasons Why” is a graphic portrayal of Hannah’s death that shows specifics on how she committed the act. Many advised against putting this in the series, but the makers decided to keep it in the show to be real and raw.
“13 Reasons Why” is rated TV-MA which is intended for mature audiences only and has a “viewer discretion is advised” message before multiple episodes with more graphic scenes (the episodes that portrayed sexual assault and Hannah’s death). It is important for you, as a parent, to use your discretion on whether you think your child will be able to handle the serious issues presented in this series. If you choose not to allow your child to watch the show, Netflix does have the option for parental controls so that you can restrict a user from accessing this series. If you do let your child watch the series I think it is very important to also have them watch the 30 minute after show that follows the series. During this segment the cast and creators speak more about mental illness and suicide-prevention information and hotlines.
Although “13 Reasons Why” does portray very serious issues in a raw matter, the subjects are very real and the show can be used as a way to start a conversation with your children. Open communication about suicide and depression is vital. Getting your child to talk about the reasons they are struggling in their life at the moment is not where the discussion should end though. There also needs to be talk about the reasons they should live, and the future they can look forward to.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or needs emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273 TALK (8255), or you can visit their website suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
By: Kaitlin A
Kids are finally out of school for the summer, which means more free time. They have time to hang out with their friends and do stuff they could not during the school year! No more homework to keep them busy and occupied while at home. Being on summer vacation might mean less parent supervision. Let’s not forget about some safety precautions to keep in mind. While parents are at work it can be easy for kids to get into some mischief. Technology is something that is continuously growing and the Internet is a great resource. Going over some safety precautions on social media can be very beneficial to the safety of your child.
Find out what social media sites your child is on. If you are on the same site, add them as a friend! By adding them as a friend you will be able to see what they are posting on the site. Also, you will be able to see who they are friends with and interacting with. Being able to see what your child is posting and who they are interacting with is very valuable since you will be able to monitor who they are communicating with. Also, what is so great about these social media sites is you can engage with your child.
Having open communication with your child will protect them from the dangers of these social media sites. Something that parents should do with their children is educate them about these sites. Having knowledge of these sites and understanding that they can be dangerous will make your child more aware of what they are posting. Parents should have the login and password information to these social media sites. With parents having this information they will be able to filter through friends on the site. Once a person has added somebody they are the only ones who can defriend them. Let your child know you are protecting them and not being overprotective.
If they are on a social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram talk to them about setting their profile to private. By setting their profile to private it means that only the friends they have added can view their profile. This is a very important feature of these social media sites since it is blocking the profile, so strangers cannot see what they are posting.
Let your child know to fill out only the basic information needed on their profile. There is no need for them to put their city, phone number or school they go to. This is a great safety precaution for the child as strangers would not be able to locate them or get a hold of them with their personal cell phone. Another safety precaution would be to make sure their location is turned off. When the location is turned off it means when they are posting it will not let others know where they are at.
Talk to your child about only accepting friend requests of people that they know. This is very important because once that person is added they will be able to see everything that was ever posted. Strangers should not be able to see personal information, as they can be a threat. For the child’s safety it is best to only add friends they know.
Social media sites are great for interacting with peers. Children who are out for school in the summer can still have daily contact with their friends. They can see what they are doing from the posts on the sites. Not only that, but if the parent is monitoring the social media site they can see what their child is doing throughout the day. Being able to discuss safety precautions with your child about the social media sites is very beneficial to the safety of the child.
By: Brittany M.
Do people enjoy feeling frustrated, lonely, angry, confused, or sad? Most people would probably say “no.” If you have a problem, would you rather continue to have it or try to solve that problem in some way? If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Solve it, of course.” People can think of many ways to try and solve their problems, or at least to help themselves feel better. Some ways are healthy, some not so much so. Which ways do you choose? (You don’t have to say it out loud.) Now, was counseling on the list of what you thought of? If not, why not? Many people don’t realize that counseling can be a very important piece of the healing and problem-solving process. Don’t have time? Don’t need anybody’s help? It doesn’t matter that much? Let me ask you one other thing: If we were talking about a purely physical matter, would you ignore your body’s needs, avoid a professional who could help you? Are your mind and emotions separate from you as a person or any less important than the rest of your body?
Counseling is very important for individuals and children and their caregivers, regardless of what the individual’s circumstances are. Caregivers have many kinds of responsibilities and demands placed upon them that children don’t have, which can be stressful all on its own.
For parents/caregivers, counseling can provide:
For children, counseling can provide:
It’s important to recognize and accept that children may not always open up to their parents/caregivers about how they are feeling. Sometimes children feel too sad or worried to do so. (Yes, even though as a parent you might tell them they can talk to you about anything.) Sometimes they wish to “protect” their family by not hurting someone’s feelings or saying something “bad.” Other times, parents might not always know the best ways to respond to their children’s feelings or problem- some concerns can feel very confusing or overwhelming. This doesn’t mean that you don’t want to support your child. It doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t love you. It just means that your child (and/or you) may need a certain kind of support or resource, which is where counseling comes into play. So, to better support your child, your family members, or even just yourself, consider counseling as a way to help take care of you-all of you- in the best ways possible.
By: Marena S.
Working in groups of people has been something that has been thrown upon us since High School. We hate it because there are always those people who don’t do work. Then there are people who do all the work for you and then give you a bad grade for the work you did. But when it comes to therapy it becomes a new concept. Within groups there is power. I don’t mean power as in one person controls the group or someone like a president. Groups provide support, support to know that you are not in your situation alone. It gives you and other members a chance to expose yourself and receive validation from others. Getting feedback and constructive criticism is another excellent outcome of group work. Groups feel like a safe space to talk about your experiences and feelings. When in later stages of group, it can be very non-judgmental and family like.
Currently I participate in a support group for middle school students dealing with bereavement at a place known as Ele’s Place. I also participate in a teen girl’s therapy group whom have been through sexual assault, physical assault, or both here at Care House. I have never been able to be a part of a more rewarding and educational experience than these groups. Every time group is run I learn something new about myself and learn something new about other members in the group. I get to witness how they open up, how they have a breakthrough in their trauma, an Ele’s Place moment*, and I get to see how group members open up to each other where in other circumstances they may not. Being able to be in the presence of these amazing kids/teens is honorable. To hear their stories and being able to be there for them in any way they see fit is service enough for me. It is truly amazing to see the little moments of “yes I can” or “yes I am strong” or “yes I can overcome this.” Because at the end of the day if even only one of those things happen with only one child, I know I have made an impact in someone’s life enough for them to finally feel some hope. Hope is a healing medicine and groups can provide that.
Care House has given me a wonderful opportunity to not only be a part of a therapy group but to also witness and hear the amazing work the other staff members are doing. I could not think of any better way to spend my time than to be with people like the ones at Care House. I love being surrounded by compassionate, loving, dedicated, and hardworking people. Social work is my passion and I have found passion in groups.
Ele’s Place moment* = when a child has a breakthrough and talks about their grief, whether it is positive or negative they have opened up more than they have in the past.
More on the Power of Groups:
Social Workers and Group Work:
Posted by: Marena S.
February is Black History month. Each year African Americans come together to celebrate their achievements throughout history and the role they play in the United States. The origins of Black History month began in 1915 after the Thirteenth Amendment was passed and freed African Americans from slavery. A growing awareness of Black identity became prominent after the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington mark the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two life changing events in African American history. People like Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, Malcom X, Andrew Goodman, and others all risked their lives to fight for racial freedom.
We are all created equal. Those were the words of a wise man named Thomas Jefferson, who had slaves of his own. You may think history is boring, that it’s in the past, and it doesn’t matter but it does matter. Every day we are surrounded by the outcomes that our history has chosen for us. Slavery still exists among us, racism is still spread by hatred and power, and people still chose to look past ideas like white privilege. If we don’t know where we came from how can we begin to understand the perspectives of others and why we chose to act the way we do? Still African Americans are denied equal rights. Still African Americans are subjected to being pulled over more often than white people are. Still African Americans hold a high number when it comes to mass incarceration. When will the discrimination stop?
When visiting the Museum of African American History in Detroit many concepts flew through my head. African Americans were put through things like slavery, lynching, close quarters in ships coming to American, whipping, sexual assault, physical abuse, and a number of others horrible events due to the fact that they were thought to be the “superior” race. White does not mean superior, we are all human and diversity brings culture. Culture brings new ideas and ways of life that we have never heard us. Culture can help us expand our mind and see things from a different perspective. The next time you have judgement on someone else’s culture remember this…. acknowledge other people differences and ask them “Hey why do you do it this way” and you might learn something new.
I would like to end on the note that modern day slavery still exists. Although it may not be as “Black and White” as it used to be, it is still prominent in this country and others. Myself and other staff members at Care House decided to attend a conference about Human Trafficking at Eastern Michigan University to become more educated on the subject. We learned that human trafficking does not just involve sex trafficking but also labor trafficking. It affects everyone and keeping children safe is our number one priority here at Care House. Please, if you are a victim of human trafficking or know someone who is, it is never too late to get help.
Posted by Emilie K.
February 1st, America’s National Freedom Day: a day to celebrate the end of slavery…or so we thought!
152 years ago on February 1st of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment banning slavery in the United States. On this day every year, we rejoice and reflect on America’s freedom. We promote and acknowledge all that our country has worked towards in forming a more perfect union. President Barack Obama selected January as Nation Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, ending with National Freedom Day on the first of February. While we must recognize the growth and progress that our nation has made, we cannot ignore many of those still trapped in slavery today. Before becoming an intern at Care House, I had no idea how prevalent slavery still is in America. I didn’t think slavery was still an issue. Boy, was I wrong!
Brace yourself for some disheartening statistics that you may not see in your everyday life—I know I didn’t! According to UNICEF, human trafficking subjects children, women, and men to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. This horrific practice can include prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism as well as labor for domestic service, factory or construction work, and migrant farming. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, with the highest numbers of reports coming from California, Texas, Florida and New York. In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) received 7,572 reports of human trafficking cases. Of those reports, 2,387 (31.5%) involved a minor (under the age of 18) and 5,551 (73.3%) were sex trafficking.
When I was exposed to these statistics and learned of the traumatic experiences of those sold in human trafficking, I wanted to do everything and anything I could to help. But being only one person, how much of an impact could I really have? If you feel the same way I do, you’re not alone. Even by reading this post, you’re making an impact. Being educated and aware of these horrible acts is a great step in the right direction! Now share what you’ve learned and spread awareness that slavery is not completely eliminated. There’s a wide variety of resources on human trafficking and organizations to check out. Below is a short list of just a couple of the many resources you can access:
If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit https://humantraffickinghotline.org/ to learn more.
Posted by: Evelyn R.
(*In this post, the terms ‘parent’ and ‘primary caregiver’ are used interchangeably)
What is a Healthy Parent-Child Relationship?
Just like any other relationship, a parent-child relationship (PCR)* is impacted by each person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If both individuals have positive thoughts and feelings about one another and their behaviors are mutually respectful, it is likely that the relationship is healthy, functional and satisfying. In PCRs where at least one of these factors is negative or undesirable, there is a chance that the relationship is not stable and one (or both) individuals’ needs are not being met.
In some cases, the parent may not have the skills and/or tools to meet their child’s needs or they may feel overwhelmed and unable to manage their child’s behavior. On the other hand, a child might not feel safe or cared for if their parent does not respond appropriately and/or consistently to their physical or emotional needs. These are both examples of how a PCR may be unhealthy or unsatisfying.
In order for a PCR to be healthy, the child must have a parent or caregiver who is available, warm and responsive, reliable, and able to set appropriate rules/boundaries. The child also needs to feel cared for and safe with their parent. Each of these factors helps the child develop a healthy attachment to their parent. Research has shown that some young children who experience trauma may have fewer and less severe trauma-related symptoms if they have a healthy attachment to their primary caregiver; whereas, traumatized children without a healthy attachment are more likely to experience negative long-term effects of the trauma 4.
Benefits of a Healthy Parent-Child Relationship
The quality of the PCR often provides the foundation for the child’s development, which begins in infancy. In order for a child to develop normally, they need a healthy PCR. Children develop attachments to those who pay attention to them and meet their needs1. Therefore, when a child forms a healthy attachment to their primary caregiver, it suggests that the child’s needs are all being met, which then creates an environment that nurtures the child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. Healthy relationships and interpersonal interactions in a person’s life help to regulate chemicals in the brain and brain function which also has a direct impact on child development 6.
In PCRs, the parent becomes a model for the child. The child observes how the primary caregiver responds to them and to other people around them. The child learns to adapt their behavior to suit their environment; therefore, children often repeat their parent’s behaviors, which may then be carried into their adulthood. Children with a healthy PCR learn how to form healthy relationships, to behave appropriately, and to take care of their physical and mental health. They also learn how to ask for support when they need it and they develop skills for coping with challenging situations, which helps build resilience.
Building a Stronger Parent-Child Relationship
There are many different ways that parents can strengthen the relationship with their child. Consistency and mutual respect are key aspects of a healthy PCR. Consistency can be created by developing a daily routine, setting (and following) clear rules and consequences, being available to the child, and regularly modeling healthy behaviors. Mutual respect may stem from maintaining clear limits and boundaries, and creating consistency in the child’s life. Parents can show that they respect their children by encouraging them to try new things, letting them explore and learn from their mistakes, and allowing them to exert independence in an age-appropriate manner 7.
All children can benefit from having someone that listens to them, praises them for their accomplishments, and recognizes their individuality. Kids and teenagers can connect with their parents during 1-on-1 time where they can talk and/or play together. Free play is one way that parents can use 1-on-1 time to bond with their children; free play can be as short as 10-15 minutes per day, and it involves allowing the child to choose the toy/activity while the parent listens and follows their lead. Teens may feel more connected to their parents when they are given time to talk freely about whatever is on their mind, as well as when they feel that their need for space is respected.
Parents can build a stronger relationship by taking short breaks when tired or frustrated, or by engaging in other self-care activities, such as taking a walk, reading a book, or getting a haircut. Parents can also seek out support from family members and friends. It can be difficult for parents to take care of their children if they are not able to take care of themselves first.
Role of the Parent-Child Relationship in Trauma
The quality of the PCR can have a profound impact on how a child experiences and responds to a traumatic experience. Many children with unhealthy PCRs do not feel safe and are unable to connect with or trust others, and they tend to avoid relationships 6. These childrens’ emotional needs are not met, so they learn that comfort in unavailable; therefore, they are less likely than children with healthy relationships to seek comfort after trauma, and as a result, the negative impact of the trauma may be greater and last longer 5.
Children with a healthy parent-child relationship prior to a traumatic experience have had their needs met, so they typically know how to seek comfort and can trust that their needs will continue to be met; therefore, they are more likely to seek comfort after trauma, and the impact of the trauma may be much less severe 5. In other words, the presence of a healthy PCR can help decrease likelihood of long-term effects of trauma 6. Many children with a history of unhealthy attachments still able to learn how to express their feelings, and that it is okay to talk about their experiences which can aid greatly in their recovery process. Kids and teens that receive counseling or other treatment related to the trauma tend to have a quicker and longer-lasting recovery if they have support from their primary caregiver.
Additional Information for Parents:
PDF – Parenting a Child who has Experienced Abuse or Neglect 3: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/parenting_CAN.pdf
1Berk, L. E. (2012). Infants and children: Prenatal through middle childhood. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
2Best Start Resource Centre. (2012). Building resilience in young children: Booklet for parents of children from birth to six years. Toronto, ON: Best Start: Ontario’s Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre
3Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Parenting a child who has experienced abuse or neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
4Chu, A. T., & Lieberman, A. F. (2010). Clinical implications of traumatic stress from birth to age five. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 469-494. ProQuest. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
5De Young, A.,C., Kenardy, J. A., & Cobham, V. E. (2011). Trauma in early childhood: A neglected population. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14(3), 231-50. ProQuest. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
6Gil, E. (Ed.). (2013). Working with children to heal interpersonal trauma: The power of play. New York: The Guilford Press.
7Markham, L. (2016). Building a Great Relationship with Your Child. Retrieved from http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/connection/building-relationship
Posted by: Lindsey S.
Teach your children the anatomically correct terms for their body parts as soon as they start talking. It is important for your children to know the terms for their private parts because if something were to happen to them, they would be able to tell an adult.
Teach your children which areas of their body are private, including the mouth, that no one else should touch. Let them know that their body is theirs and they have a right to tell people not to touch them. If someone tries to touch their private areas, let them know it is okay to yell “NO” or “STOP,” to express they do not want to be touched.
Here is a helpful site with “10 Body Safety Rules” for you and your family to follow
This is another helpful link to body safety and sexual abuse prevention tips
Do some of your own research on body safety and sexual abuse victim warning signs. Contrary to popular belief and the idea of “stranger danger,” most sexual abuse occurs between victim and someone they know and/or trust. Do not leave your child alone with anyone unless you completely trust that person.
Learn warning signs of trauma and abuse. Some warning signs might include; Mood swings, self-harm, change in appetite, development of new fears, etc. Here is a website you can look at for more warning signs of abuse victims.
Encourage your children to be open with you and other trusted adults when it comes to talking about abuse. Let them know they can come to you about things that might happen that make them feel scared or uncomfortable. It is important they know that you will never be angry with them or hold them responsible if someone inappropriately touches their private parts.
Encourage your children to never keep secrets about bad or sad feelings they have. It is common that victims of abuse feel guilty. It is important they know they can come to you with any feelings they have and you will not be angry with them.
Posted by: Evelyn R
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD as it is commonly known, is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after a person experiences or is exposed to a traumatic event. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age, but not everyone that is faced with trauma will develop it; in fact, most people who experience trauma do not exhibit signs of the disorder. It is unclear why some individuals develop PTSD while others do not seem to experience any symptoms. Even though there are several aspects of PTSD that are unpredictable, including who develops which symptoms and why, two things are certain: treatment options are available, and there is hope for recovery.
What is trauma and where does it come from?
Trauma can be defined as “an experience that produces psychological injury or pain,” or that causes mental and/or emotional discomfort.1
Trauma can be experienced several different ways, which include:
Some examples of traumatic events include:
Symptoms of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress symptoms can appear immediately following a traumatic event or they may not appear until more than 6 months after the event, if at all; however, if someone is going to develop symptoms related to the trauma, it will usually happen within 3 months of when the trauma occurred. In order for someone to be diagnosed with PTSD, their symptoms must have a significantly negative impact on their ability to manage daily life. There are 4 categories of symptoms used to diagnose PTSD:
Some commonly known re-experiencing symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts related to the traumatic event(s). Reminders of the trauma that cause a person to feel emotional distress and/or to experience physical symptoms, such as sweating or a pounding heart, are other possible symptoms.3
Avoidance symptoms consist of avoiding thoughts and feelings related to the trauma, and/or avoiding physical reminders of the trauma including people, places, activities, or objects. There are various ways that an individual may exhibit avoidance; some people might refuse to mention or talk about the trauma, some might become more withdrawn from friends and family members, and some people may pretend that the trauma never happened.3
Arousal/Reactivity symptoms pertain to how alert and responsive a person is to what is happening in their mind and body, as well as to what is going on around them. Increased irritability or angry outbursts following a traumatic event are common symptoms in this category. Negative changes in sleep patterns or ability to concentrate are also possible, as well as startling more easily, feeling “on edge” or constantly looking for signs of trouble, and engaging in dangerous or self-destructive behavior.4
Mood and cognitive symptoms have a negative impact on the individual’s emotions and thoughts. After a traumatic experience, some people have a hard time remembering parts of what happened. Many people who develop PTSD feel extremely guilty or shameful about the event, even if it was out of their control, and many people also report having inaccurate thoughts about themselves (i.e. “I am a bad person”) or about the world (i.e. “No one is trustworthy”). Additionally, some individuals begin experiencing negative emotions more frequently, and it may become increasingly difficult for them to feel positive emotions. Trauma survivors sometimes lose interest in activities that are usually enjoyable, and they may find themselves feeling more distant or detached from the people closest to them.4
Children with PTSD
Children diagnosed with PTSD experience many of the same symptoms as adults but, due to their age and developmental level, their symptoms are often expressed differently. Children may repeatedly reenact the traumatic event in their play, or they may begin to show less interest in their usual activities and spend less time engaged in play. Some children may become insistent on staying by their parent or caregiver’s side, and show distress when faced with separation from that person. Some children with PTSD may revert to behavior from an earlier stage of development, such as wetting the bed or forgetting how to speak. Other children may start acting out more with disruptive or destructive behaviors along with disrespect for the people around them.2
PTSD and Other Symptoms
It is not uncommon for individuals with PTSD to have other mental or physical health concerns. Some people who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder may have additional anxiety- or depression-related symptoms. There are some trauma survivors who experience challenges in maintaining relationships with friends or family, and some people may use drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the effects of trauma. Some individuals report having persistent physical symptoms stemming from the trauma such as headaches, stomachaches, or back pain. Thoughts of suicide are another potential symptom that may arise after experiencing trauma. Suicidal ideation should always be taken seriously; if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-237-TALK (8255).3
Some trauma survivors may experience only 1 or 2 symptoms of post-traumatic stress, while others report having multiple symptoms; symptoms may persist for several months or they may last only days or weeks. There are also some people who may not develop any symptoms. Everyone reacts differently to traumatic experiences, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to respond. Regardless of how you or a family member or friend might experience trauma-related symptoms, it is normal to be faced with challenges in coping and recovering from the trauma.
Researchers have yet to determine why some people develop PTSD while others do not. Despite this lack of understanding, some factors that may influence whether a person will present with trauma-related symptoms have been identified. Risk factors may increase a person’s chance of developing PTSD, but the presence of any risk factors does not mean that they will develop disorder. Resilience factors are believed to help protect a person from the negative effects of trauma, but their presence does not mean that the individual is immune from post-traumatic disorder.2
Some risk factors include: (1) childhood trauma, (2) having little/no support after the traumatic event, (3) seeing someone get hurt or die, and (4) history of mental illness.2
Some resilience factors include: (1) support from friends/family, (2) utilizing positive coping skills, (3) presence of self-esteem, and (4) having hope for the future.2
Treatment Options & Self-Care
Not everyone with trauma-related symptoms will need treatment to achieve recovery, but many do need that extra support. Treatment options for PTSD include medication, talk therapy (counseling), and alternative therapies. Some trauma survivors choose to ask their doctor for a prescription to help manage their symptoms. In some cases, a person may choose to take a medication, such as an antidepressant, for an extended period so that they can function in their day-to-day life. Other individuals may choose to take a medication just for the duration of talk therapy, because the medicine can help reduce their symptoms allowing them to place more focus on learning new skills and getting as much out of the counseling experience as possible.1,2
There are some individuals who to attend talk therapy sessions as their sole form of treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly used types of talk therapy, and its purpose is to help individuals process the thoughts and feelings related to the trauma in a way that will allow them to create a more positive perception of the traumatic event(s). Talk therapy can be utilized in individual and groups sessions, and it usually lasts 6-12 weeks, but may extend beyond that depending on the person’s needs. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and animal-assisted therapy, are also available, but information regarding the effectiveness of these less conventional therapies is still quite limited.1,2
Taking care of oneself is always important, but it becomes especially critical when faced with a traumatic experience. Self-care involves setting aside time for relaxing and using healthy coping skills to manage stress. Self-care is different for everyone, but one key aspect of it is to be patient with oneself while recovering from trauma. Self-care activities may include, but are not limited to writing in a journal, listening to music, engaging in physical activity, making time to get enough sleep, eating well, and attending a PTSD support group.1,2
National Institute of Mental Health - About PTSD https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
Help Guide - About PTSD, Treatment, & Finding Therapy
KidsHealth - PTSD - For Parents
TeensHealth - PTSD - For Teens
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-237-TALK (8255)
1 "The Definition of Trauma." Dictionary.com. Random House, Inc., 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
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