Study: PTSD affects 1 in 13 by the age of 18

BBC News ( reports a study where nearly a third of 18 year olds had experienced childhood trauma. 25% of them developed symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including insomnia, flashbacks, avoidance, guilt, irritability, impulsivity, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of isolation. The BBC article notes that many people wrongly think PTSD only affects people in the military. It goes on to describe a young woman who developed PTSD as a result of surgery she endured as an infant. "People don't really associate PTSD with a young child - and that has to change," she said.

Here's the full article:

Now offering EMDR therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is quite a mouthful to say. More importantly, it's one of the most extensively researched, efficacious treatments available for trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR is believed to work similarly to the processing that occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It helps us process things that are too overwhelming for the conscious mind to make sense of.

I'm excited to report that I recently completed a 50-hour training approved by the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). The clients I've used it with so far are in agreement - it works. I also use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)/Tapping a lot, and that works for a lot of people too. While the mechanics are different (bilateral eye movements vs. tapping on energy meridian points), there are a lot of similarities between the two.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) / Tapping

EFT/Tapping2018 is shaping up to a big year for continuing education. In February, I completed training in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)/Tapping. Then in April, I traveled to Toronto to learn a process called Matrix Reimprinting that extends EFT to sort of reprogram past traumas. In September, I'll begin a course in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), another highly effective trauma technique.

Here's an article I wrote for ADDitude Magazine about EFT.  While the article is ADHD-specific, EFT can be used to treat a wide variety of physical and psychological problems. 

"From food cravings to lack of motivation, Emotional Freedom Techniques neutralizes negative emotions and frees you to move forward in life."  Here's the rest:


The link between ADHD and trauma

I used to think my professional interests - adult ADHD and trauma/PTSD - were an odd combination. Would I have to give up my work with ADHD adults in order to pursue my new(er) passion? Do these two issues have enough commonality to make sense for me to specialize in both?  Would people get it?

Over time I've noticed that many of my ADHD clients are also struggling to heal from neglect or abuse sustained during childhood. This is actually a big part of the reason I decided in 2013 to get my master's in counseling - so I could help them with both. Conversely, one of my internship supervisors shared her belief that all clients with trauma histories will also have ADHD symptoms.  This has been echoed by multiple professionals in the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) field during my various trainings.

Why is this? 

ADHD is characterized by inattention and / or impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is diagnosed via a symptom checklist rather than blood work or scans. Medical professionals often don't ask about trauma histories when responding to a request to identify "why is my kid so out of control" or "why isn't he doing better in school". If ADHD is suspected, the checklists are administered and the diagnosis is made. If trauma is asked about, it isn't always disclosed, or is considered secondary.

Hypervigilance (constantly scanning for threats) and dissociation (checking out) can look a lot like inattention.

Impulsivity can be a response to unmanageable stress.

It's hard to sit still when you don't feel safe.

Neural pathways are created in the brain that entrench these behaviors over time until they become the norm. The trauma is pushed to the back of the mind and not talked about. After enough time passes, the two feel more and more separate. But they aren't.

I've concluded that my specialization doesn't have to be - indeed it can't be - one or the other.  If you're looking at ADHD, you could also be looking at trauma and vice versa. It can be extremely helpful to work with a professional who deeply understands both.

To be clear, I'm not saying that ADHD is always caused by trauma. The current working theory is that it's a genetic condition. Scientists generally agree that there could also be other causes, and trauma could be one of them. I'm just saying we need to correctly identify the underlying cause, so we can treat it appropriately and effectively. 

Check out this article for more details on how childhood trauma could be mistaken for ADHD.



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