Saturday, November 23, 2013

PTSD and Weight Gain

Have you read this article about how PTSD could lead to sizeable weight gain in women.

"The women were asked about the worst trauma they experienced and if they had symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms included re-experiencing the traumatic event, feeling threatened, avoiding social situations and feeling emotionally numb. PTSD was defined as having four or more symptoms over a month or more."

Often times the "trauma" that we as mothers of attachment challenged children is referred to as secondary PTSD, although not an official diagnosis, it refers to the mirroring of PTSD symptoms that our children exhibit.  I think this is dismissive to what we as mothers have gone through.  I hear from families all over about the constant threats and violence that some of them have endured, often for years.  They have lived with locked doors, hidden their kitchen knives, installed video monitoring systems and developed safety plans.  They have been physically and verbally abused by their own children.  They have been isolated from the outside world.  Our homes and experiences have moved beyond "secondary" trauma. 

Ill take it a step further and say that the majority of moms I know go beyond Secondary PTSD and meet the criteria for full blown PTSD.  Yes, our children may have PTSD and we very well may mirror their symptoms.  However, the longer you live with a child who has experienced trauma the more direct and indirect trauma you receive from the child.  I can confidently say that even though our home is relatively free from direct trauma, threats and violence at this time, the effects from the PTSD that I suffered early on are real and still something that I am working through.

I encourage you to take a look at the PTSD criteria, read over the article and discuss it with your doctor.  I know I for one am totally blaming my weight gain on definitely has nothing to do with my love of cheese fries and hatred of exercise!

Take a look at the DSM-V criteria for PTSD: (link the following definition was taken from)

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. The sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; the seventh assesses functioning; and, the eighth criterion clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.
Two specifications are noted including delayed expression and a dissociative subtype of PTSD, the latter of which is new to DSM-5. In both specifications, the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD must be met for application to be warranted.

Criterion A: stressor

The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)
  1. Direct exposure.
  2. Witnessing, in person.
  3. Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
  4. Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.

Criterion B: intrusion symptoms

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s): (one required)
  1. Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories. Note: Children older than six may express this symptom in repetitive play.
  2. Traumatic nightmares. Note: Children may have frightening dreams without content related to the trauma(s).
  3. Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) which may occur on a continuum from brief episodes to complete loss of consciousness. Note: Children may reenact the event in play.
  4. Intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders.
  5. Marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma-related stimuli.

Criterion C: avoidance

Persistent effortful avoidance of distressing trauma-related stimuli after the event: (one required)
  1. Trauma-related thoughts or feelings.
  2. Trauma-related external reminders (e.g., people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations).

Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (two required)
  1. Inability to recall key features of the traumatic event (usually dissociative amnesia; not due to head injury, alcohol, or drugs).
  2. Persistent (and often distorted) negative beliefs and expectations about oneself or the world (e.g., "I am bad," "The world is completely dangerous").
  3. Persistent distorted blame of self or others for causing the traumatic event or for resulting consequences.
  4. Persistent negative trauma-related emotions (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).
  5. Markedly diminished interest in (pre-traumatic) significant activities.
  6. Feeling alienated from others (e.g., detachment or estrangement).
  7. Constricted affect: persistent inability to experience positive emotions.

Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity

Trauma-related alterations in arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (two required)
  1. Irritable or aggressive behavior
  2. Self-destructive or reckless behavior
  3. Hypervigilance
  4. Exaggerated startle response
  5. Problems in concentration
  6. Sleep disturbance

Criterion F: duration

Persistence of symptoms (in Criteria B, C, D, and E) for more than one month.

Criterion G: functional significance

Significant symptom-related distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H: exclusion

Disturbance is not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Specify if: With dissociative symptoms.

In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:
  1. Depersonalization: experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if "this is not happening to me" or one were in a dream).
  2. Derealization: experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., "things are not real").

Specify if: With delayed expression.

Full diagnosis is not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately.

There are some really great therapies out there for PTSD, if your looking for more information I would check out EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and see if it might help you or your child in your healing.

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