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Managing PTSD from Childhood

By       Message carol wolman, MD       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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As we fight collectively for continuation of life on the planet, we have to deal with our individual stumbling blocks. They discourage us, slow us down, lead us to make mistakes and quarrel with our allies. Many of the stumbling blocks are due to childhood traumas that leave unhealed wounds. Current events can trigger the pain, leading to an upsurge of childhood feelings.

I've run across childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in my psychiatric practice quite a bit. The following protocol has proven helpful to many, so I decided to share it more widely.

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Over the past few years, I've come to recognize that many of my patients have been misdiagnosed- especially as bipolar, but sometimes labeled with schizophrenia, personality disorders- when actually they are suffering from a severely traumatic childhood, making it difficult to sustain an adult functioning personality on a reliable basis.

As I've worked with patients, and looked at my own situation- as I've unraveled the mysteries of this kind of PTSD- I've come up with a management protocol that works pretty well. Perhaps it can help you.

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PTSD consists of intrusions of memories into your everyday life, in a manner that is disruptive. The disruption can last for a few seconds, or for weeks. The intrusions can make concentration and task completion difficult.

Sometimes they are so frequent and prolonged that they take over everyday life, making it difficult to build a life or sustain a life activity, such as school, jobs, family. You may not be aware of what is happening, and think you are "in a bad mood", or "spacing out", or "just messed up".

I call these memory intrusions "PTSD episodes". One patient describes it as falling off a cliff. Another as falling into a memory hole. There is a sense of being taken over, spaced, and emotionally distraught. Nightmares often continue the episodes, disrupting sleep.

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The memories are of childhood, and you tend to regress emotionally to the age at which the memory took place, whether 14, or 6, or 1. Sometimes the trauma took place before you could talk, and so your reaction is non-verbal. This can manifest as a childish display of emotions- tantrums, rages, curling into a ball. It also can manifest as harmful acting out- self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, hurting yourself, hurting others. It can show up as illnesses of various sorts- irritable bowel, asthma.

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Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she is helping to distribute a Peace Plan for the Holy Land- email her for a copy. She also a film producer with Paradise Cove Productions.

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