PTSD in Refugee and Unaccompanied Children:

By: Luz Melendez

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can occur to someone after being exposed to one or more traumatic events. These traumatic events can vary from a natural disaster, war/combat, serious injury, sexual violence, and/or exposure to death threats. After experiencing a trauma there can be an emotional reaction to these events which can include fear, helplessness, and even horror. There may also be distressing memories of the traumatic event which can be recurrent and involuntary. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms have to last for more than a month and be persistent. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

One population that is less talked about when it comes to PTSD is children, but more specifically refugee or asylum seeking children. The current population of children with PTSD in the U.S. is about 5% and among refugee children in the U.S. it’s about 54%. These children are experiencing hunger, extreme poverty, bombings, abductions, sexual assault, and even witnessing deaths. These stressors can often co-occur making everyday life very difficult for them. The effects of these events are causing developmental regression, clinginess, repetitive play of the trauma/s, anxiety, depression, ACES, and mood changes. One effect that is very important is how the brain is being affected by these traumas. PTSD is developed in two key regions of the brain, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala reacts too strongly while the prefrontal cortex impedes the ability to regulate a threat response. It’s the perfect storm that leads to hyperarousal, hyper vigilance, and sleep deprivation which are big issues when it comes to children. Children’s brains are growing and developing and these traumas are stunting the global developmental growth of these children’s brains.

Often PTSD in refugee or asylum seeking children, if left untreated/undiagnosed, can and will lead to life long-lasting effects. In the situation these children are in, it’s difficult to not only diagnose them but to properly treat them. Many if not all have witnessed one or more of the stressors mentioned above and these children are out in the world not only having their lives completely change but having their mental health deteriorate. Thankfully some host countries who take in refugees, screen them and try to help them adjust to their now new lives and overcome barriers that come with accessing physical and mental health care. This also includes overcoming the stigma that refugees have of seeking mental health care. Like mentioned before only some host countries do this, others are still fixing their processing of refugees.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Reference:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

PTSD Researcher Finds Link between Stress and Trauma

By Diana Bae

Rachel Yehuda, PhD, is a distinguished researcher and Director of Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Icahn School of Medicine of Mount Sinai. She has conducted numerous prominent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) studies and treatment. One of her most well-known studies researched Vietnam War combat veterans with PTSD and found that they had significantly lower cortisol levels than veterans without PTSD. Cortisol is a hormone that controls stress and although it is thought that more cortisol resulted in more stress, Dr. Yehuda showed that that is not the case. Thus, there needs to be a sufficient amount of cortisol to handle stress and reduce the risk of developing trauma. Now, Dr. Yehuda plans to test a drug, oral hydrocortisone, to see whether it can replicate the cortisol naturally produced in the body. If this drug is successful, it may prevent PTSD and other similar disorders.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the problems caused by PTSD and are dedicated to provide proper attention and treatment. If you or someone you know would like to set up an appointment for our counseling services, contact us at our offices in Paramus, NJ (201) 368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY (212) 996-3939. For more information, please visit our website https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Source: Inside, a publication of the Mount Sinai Health System, Issue: November 25 – December 15, 2019;  Picture Source: http:// www. thesuburban.com/life/lifestyles/can-trauma-be-transmitted-intergenerationally-oct-dawson-college-peace-centre/article_ea2d7bb0-b063-11e7-aee3-5b0d013065f7.html, https:// askopinion.com/how-to-deal-with-ptsd-aka-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Don’t Come Forward Sooner

By Samantha Glosser

If you watch the news or are an avid social media consumer, you have probably heard about various claims of sexual assault against public and political figures, where the victim did not immediately come forward. We recently saw this with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager. Situations like Dr. Ford’s have opened up a discussion about one important question: why do survivors wait so long to report an assault? Research shows that it is a normal response for survivors of sexual assault to take time before reporting the assault, if they report at all. This may not make sense to you, as you are probably wondering why they wouldn’t want justice or revenge on their abuser. However, there are numerous reasons that compel survivors to prolong or withhold disclosing that they were sexually abused.

  1. Fear of being victimized a second time. Reporting a sexual assault often leads to new and added traumas from peers, family members, police officers, lawyers, etc. This feeling often comes from having to relive the experience or from people indicating that the victim caused the sexual assault by asking questions like, “What were you wearing at the time of the attack?”
  2. Lack of support. Lack of support is a multi-faceted issue. Survivors find it hard to report if they are not surrounded by loved ones who support them. However, even with this support, individuals still refrain from reporting because they know that our society has a tendency to blame the victim for the sexual assault. A lack of support can even come from other survivors of sexual assault. Typically, other survivors are seen as a source of comfort. However, some will dismiss another person’s assault with statements like, “What’s the big deal? It happens to all of us. Get over it.”
  3. Decline in functioning after the assault. Survivors of sexual assault experience intense feelings of shame, worthlessness, and self-loathing which can quickly bring on depression and anxiety. It is difficult for survivors to contemplate a course of action after the assault when they can barely figure out how to make it through the day. In the midst of these emotions, survivors want to forget and pretend that the assault did not occur.
  4. Vague memories of the attack. In some cases, victims of sexual assault were drugged by their abuser or previously inebriated. Both of these situations can lead to victims only having a vague memory of the attack. In addition, the trauma endured by some victims is so severe it causes them to dissociate, which also leads to vague memories. When individuals do not have a vivid recollection of the event, they may be scared to come forward because they fear others will not believe them, or in some cases because they do not believe their own memories.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-women/2018/10/6-big-reasons-women-dont-report-sexual-abuse-right-away/