Archive for July 2018

Age-Related Memory Loss

We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on someone’s name, or forgotten a phone number. When we’re young, we don’t tend to pay much mind to these lapses, but as we grow older, sometimes we worry about what they mean. While it’s true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.

Memory and aging

Forgetfulness is a common complaint among many of us as we get older. You start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you can’t remember the title. You’re giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. You find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for.

Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren’t cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.

As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. We’re not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.

Memory loss is not an inevitable part of the aging process

The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain. Whatever your age, there are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills, prevent memory loss, and protect your grey matter.

Furthermore, many mental abilities are largely unaffected by normal aging, such as:

  • Your ability to do the things you’ve always done and continue to do often
  • The wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired from life experience
  • Your innate common sense and your ability to form reasonable arguments and judgments

Normal forgetfulness vs. dementia

For most people, occasional lapses in memory are a normal part of the aging process, not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:

  • Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
  • Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name.
  • Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
  • Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation.
  • Not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue.”

The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. Dementia, on the other hand, is marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment, and abstract thinking.

When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, or another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia. MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, it’s normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, it’s not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.

If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.

While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.

Symptoms of MCI include:

  • Frequently losing or misplacing things
  • Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events
  • Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances
  • Difficulty following the flow of a conversation

When to see a doctor for memory loss

It’s time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. If you get to that point, make an appointment as soon as possible to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination. Even if you’re not displaying all the necessary symptoms to indicate dementia, now may be a good time to take steps to prevent a small problem becoming a larger one.

Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

What to expect at your doctor’s visit

The doctor will ask you a lot of question about your memory, including:

  • how long you or others have noticed a problem with your memory
  • what kinds of things have been difficult to remember
  • whether the difficulty came on gradually or suddenly
  • whether you’re having trouble doing ordinary things

The doctor also will want to know what medications you’re taking, how you’ve been eating and sleeping, whether you’ve been depressed or stressed lately, and other questions about what’s been happening in your life. Chances are the doctor will also ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months. If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist.

Reversible causes of memory loss

It’s important to remember that memory loss doesn’t automatically mean that you have dementia. There are many other reasons why you may be experiencing cognitive problems, including stress, depression, and even vitamin deficiencies. That’s why it’s so important to go to a doctor to get an official diagnosis if you’re experiencing problems. Sometimes, even what looks like significant memory loss can be caused by treatable conditions and reversible external factors, such as:

Depression. Depression can mimic the signs of memory loss, making it hard for you to concentrate, stay organized, remember things, and get stuff done. Depression is a common problem in older adults—especially if you’re less social and active than you used to be or you’ve recently experienced a number of important losses or major life changes (retirement, a serious medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, moving out of your home).

Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. In fact, a lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain. Older people have a slower nutritional absorption rate, which can make it difficult for you to get the B12 your mind and body need. If you smoke or drink, you may be at particular risk. If you address a vitamin B12 deficiency early, you can reverse the associated memory problems. Treatment is available in the form of a monthly injection.

Thyroid problems. The thyroid gland controls metabolism: if your metabolism is too fast, you may feel confused, and if it’s too slow, you can feel sluggish and depressed. Thyroid problems can cause memory problems such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Medication can reverse the symptoms.

Alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol intake is toxic to brain cells, and alcohol abuse leads to memory loss. Over time, alcohol abuse may also increase the risk of dementia. Because of the damaging effects of excessive drinking, experts advise limiting your daily intake to just 1-2 drinks.

Dehydration. Older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration. Severe dehydration can cause confusion, drowsiness, memory loss, and other symptoms that look like dementia. It’s important to stay hydrated (aim for 6-8 drinks per day). Be particularly vigilant if you take diuretics or laxatives or suffer from diabetes, high blood sugar, or diarrhea.

Side effects of medication. Many prescribed and over-the-counter drugs or combinations of drugs can cause cognitive problems and memory loss as a side effect. This is especially common in older adults because they break down and absorb medication more slowly. Common medications that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, muscle relaxants, anticholinergic drugs for urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal discomfort, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and painkillers.

Are you taking three or more drugs?

As well as certain individual medications, taking too many medications can also create cognitive problems. A recent study found that the more medications you take, the higher your risk for brain atrophy. Researchers found that the loss of gray matter was most acute in people who took three or more different medications. If you are concerned about the medications you’re taking, talk to your doctor. But do NOT stop taking your medications without your doctor’s consent.

Compensating for memory loss

The same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute to a healthy memory. So, by taking steps early to prevent cognitive decline, you’ll also be improving all other aspects of your life as well.

Stay social. People who aren’t socially engaged with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Quality face-to-face social interaction can greatly reduce stress and is powerful medicine for the brain, so schedule time with friends, join a book club, or visit the local senior center. And be sure to put your phone away and focus fully on the people you’re with if you want the full brain benefit.

Exercise regularly. Starting a regular exercise routine, including cardio and strength training, may reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.

Stop smoking. Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. When you quit smoking, the brain quickly benefits from improved circulation.

Manage stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. But even before that happens, stress or anxiety can cause memory difficulties in the moment. When you’re stressed out or anxious, you’re more likely to suffer memory lapses and have trouble learning or concentrating. But simple stress management techniques can minimize these harmful effects.

Get enough sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep as you age is necessary for memory consolidation, the process of forming and storing new memories so you can retrieve them later. Sleep deprivation reduces the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus and causes problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making. It can even lead to depression—another memory killer.

Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink green tea as these foods contain antioxidants in abundance, which can keep your brain cells from “rusting.” Foods rich in omega-3 fats (such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, and flaxseed) are particularly good for your brain and memory. Eating too many calories, though, can increase your risk of developing memory loss or cognitive impairment.

Brain exercises to combat memory loss

Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower your risk of mental decline. Try to find brain exercises that you find enjoyable. The more pleasurable an activity is to you, the more powerful its effect will be on your brain. You can make some activities more enjoyable by appealing to your senses—by playing music during the exercise, for example, or lighting a scented candle, or rewarding yourself after you’ve finished.

Here are some ideas for brain exercise, from light workouts to heavy lifting:

  • Play games you are not already familiar with that involve strategy, like chess or bridge, and word games like Scrabble. Try crossword and other word puzzles, or number puzzles such as Sudoku.
  • Read newspapers, magazines, and books that challenge you.
  • Get in the habit of learning new things: games, recipes, driving routes, a musical instrument, a foreign language. Take a course in an unfamiliar subject that interests you. The more interested and engaged your brain, the more likely you’ll be to continue learning and the greater the benefits you’ll experience.
  • Improve how well you do existing activities. If you already speak a foreign language, commit to improving your fluency. Or if you’re a keen golfer, aim to lower your handicap.
  • Take on a project that involves design and planning, such as a new garden, a quilt, or a koi pond.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/age-related-memory-loss.htm

ADHD/ADD and School

School creates multiple challenges for kids with ADHD, but with patience and an effective plan, your child can thrive in the classroom. As a parent, you can work with your child and his or her teacher to implement practical strategies for learning both inside and out of the classroom. With consistent support, these strategies can help your child meet learning challenges—and experience success at school.

Setting up your child for school success

The classroom environment can be a challenging place for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). The very tasks these students find the most difficult—sitting still, listening quietly, concentrating—are the ones they are required to do all day long. Perhaps most frustrating of all is that most of these children want to be able to learn and behave like their unaffected peers. Neurological deficits, not unwillingness, keep kids with attention deficit disorder from learning in traditional ways.

As a parent, you can help your child cope with these deficits and meet the challenges school creates. You can provide the most effective support: equipping your child with learning strategies for the classroom and communicating with teachers about how your child learns best. With support at home and teaching strategies at work in the classroom, there is no reason why kids with ADHD can’t flourish in school.

Tips for working with teachers

Remember that your child’s teacher has a full plate: in addition to managing a group of children with distinct personalities and learning styles, he or she can also expect to have at least one student with ADHD. Teachers can do their best to help your child with attention deficit disorder learn effectively, but parental involvement can dramatically improve your child’s education. You have the power to optimize your child’s chances for success by supporting the work done in the classroom. If you can work with and support your child’s teacher, you can directly affect the experience of your child with ADHD in the classroom.

There are a number of ways you can work with teachers to keep your child on track at school. Together you can help your child with ADHD learn to find his or her feet in the classroom and work effectively through the challenges of the school day.

As a parent, you are your child’s advocate. For your child to succeed in the classroom, it is vital that you communicate his or her needs to the adults at school. It is equally important for you to listen to what the teachers and other school officials have to say.

You can make communication with your child’s school constructive and productive. Try to keep in mind that your mutual purpose is finding out how to best help your child succeed in school. Whether you talk over the phone, email, or meet in person, make an effort to be calm, specific, and above all positive—a good attitude can go a long way in communication with school.

Plan ahead. You can arrange to speak with school officials or teachers before the school year even begins. If the year has started, plan to speak with a teacher or counselor on at least a monthly basis.

Make meetings happen. Agree on a time that works for both you and your child’s teacher and stick to it. If it’s convenient, meet in your child’s classroom so you can get a sense of your child’s physical learning environment.

Create goals together. Discuss your hopes for your child’s school success. Together, write down specific and realistic goals and talk about how they can be reached.

Listen carefully. Like you, your child’s teacher wants to see your child succeed at school. Listen to what they have to say—even if it is sometimes hard to hear. Understanding your child’s challenges in school is the key to finding solutions that work.

Share information. You know your child’s history, and your child’s teacher sees them every day: together you have a lot of information that can lead to better understanding of your child’s hardships. Share your observations freely, and encourage your child’s teachers to do the same.

Ask the hard questions and give a complete picture. Be sure to list any medications your child takes and explain any other treatments. Share with your child’s teacher which tactics work well—and which don’t—for your child at home. Ask if your child is having any problems in school, including on the playground. Find out if your child can get any special services to help with learning.

Developing and using a behavior plan

Children with ADD/ADHD are capable of appropriate classroom behavior, but they need structure and clear expectations in order to keep their symptoms in check. As a parent, you can help by developing a behavior plan for your child—and sticking to it. Whatever type of behavior plan you put in place, create it in close collaboration with your child’s teacher and your child.

Kids with attention deficit disorder respond best to specific goals and daily positive reinforcement—as well as worthwhile rewards. Yes, you may have to hang a carrot on a stick to get your child to behave better in class. Create a plan that incorporates small rewards for small victories and larger rewards for bigger accomplishments.

Tips for managing ADHD symptoms at school

ADHD impacts each child’s brain differently, so each case can look quite different in the classroom. Children with ADHD exhibit a range of symptoms: some seem to bounce off the walls, some daydream constantly, and others just can’t seem to follow the rules.

As a parent, you can help your child with ADHD reduce any or all of these types of behaviors. It is important to understand how attention deficit disorder affects different children’s behavior so that you can choose the appropriate strategies for tackling the problem. There are a variety of fairly straightforward approaches you and your child’s teacher can take to best manage the symptoms of ADHD—and put your child on the road to school success.

Managing distractibility

Students with ADHD may be so easily distracted by noises, passersby, or their own thoughts that they often miss vital classroom information. These children have trouble staying focused on tasks that require sustained mental effort. They may seem to be listening to you, but something gets in the way of their ability to retain the information.

Helping kids who distract easily involves physical placement, increased movement, and breaking long work into shorter chunks.

  • Seat the child with ADHD away from doors and windows. Put pets in another room or a corner while the student is working.
  • Alternate seated activities with those that allow the child to move his or her body around the room. Whenever possible, incorporate physical movement into lessons.
  • Write important information down where the child can easily read and reference it. Remind the student where the information can be found.
  • Divide big assignments into smaller ones, and allow children frequent breaks.

Reducing interrupting

Kids with attention deficit disorder may struggle with controlling their impulses, so they often speak out of turn. In the classroom or home, they call out or comment while others are speaking. Their outbursts may come across as aggressive or even rude, creating social problems as well. The self-esteem of children with ADHD is often quite fragile, so pointing this issue out in class or in front of family members doesn’t help the problem—and may even make matters worse.

Reducing the interruptions of children with ADHD should be done carefully so that the child’s self-esteem is maintained, especially in front of others. Develop a “secret language” with the child with ADHD. You can use discreet gestures or words you have previously agreed upon to let the child know they are interrupting. Praise the child for interruption-free conversations.

Managing impulsivity

Children with ADHD may act before thinking, creating difficult social situations in addition to problems in the classroom. Kids who have trouble with impulse control may come off as aggressive or unruly. This is perhaps the most disruptive symptom of ADHD, particularly at school.

Methods for managing impulsivity include behavior plans, immediate discipline for infractions, and ways to give children with ADHD a sense of control over their day.

Make sure a written behavior plan is near the student. You can even tape it to the wall or the child’s desk.

Give consequences immediately following misbehavior. Be specific in your explanation, making sure the child knows how they misbehaved.

Recognize good behavior out loud. Be specific in your praise, making sure the child knows what they did right.

Write the schedule for the day on the board or on a piece of paper and cross off each item as it is completed. Children with impulse problems may gain a sense of control and feel calmer when they know what to expect.

Managing fidgeting and hyperactivity

ADHD causes many students to be in constant physical motion. It may seem like a struggle for these children to stay in their seats. Kids with ADD/ADHD may jump, kick, twist, fidget and otherwise move in ways that make them difficult to teach.

Strategies for combating hyperactivity consist of creative ways to allow the child with ADHD to move in appropriate ways at appropriate times. Releasing energy this way may make it easier for the child to keep his or her body calmer during work time.

Ask children with ADHD to run an errand or do a task for you, even if it just means walking across the room to sharpen pencils or put dishes away.

Encourage a child with ADHD to play a sport—or at least run around before and after school—and make sure the child never misses recess or P.E.

Provide a stress ball, small toy, or other object for the child to squeeze or play with discreetly at his or her seat.

Limit screen time in favor of time for movement.

Dealing with trouble following directions

Difficulty following directions is a hallmark problem for many children with ADHD. These kids may look like they understand and might even write down directions, but then aren’t able to do what has been asked. Sometimes these students miss steps and turn in incomplete work, or misunderstand an assignment altogether and wind up doing something else entirely.

Helping children with ADHD follow directions means taking measures to break down and reinforce the steps involved in your instructions, and redirecting when necessary. Try being extremely brief when giving directions, allowing the child to do one step and then come back to find out what they should do next. If the child gets off track, give a calm reminder, redirecting in a calm but firm voice. Whenever possible, write directions down in a bold marker or in colored chalk on a blackboard.

Tips for making learning fun

One positive way to keep your child’s attention focused on learning is to make the process fun. Using physical motion in a lesson, connecting dry facts to interesting trivia, or inventing silly songs that make details easier to remember can help your child enjoy learning and even reduce the symptoms of ADHD.

Helping children with ADHD enjoy math

Children who have attention deficit disorder tend to be “concrete” thinkers. They often like to hold, touch, or take part in an experience in order to learn something new. By using games and objects to demonstrate mathematical concepts, you can show your child that math can be meaningful—and fun.

Play games. Use memory cards, dice, or dominoes to make numbers fun. Or simply use your fingers and toes, tucking them in or wiggling them when you add or subtract.

Draw pictures. Especially for word problems, illustrations can help kids better understand mathematical concepts. If the word problem says there are twelve cars, help your child draw them from steering wheel to trunk.

Invent silly acronyms. In order to remember order of operations, for example, make up a song or phrase that uses the first letter of each operation in the correct order.

Helping children with ADHD enjoy reading

There are many ways to make reading exciting, even if the skill itself tends to be a struggle for children with ADHD. Keep in mind that reading at its most basic level is made up of stories and interesting information—things that all children enjoy.

Read to children. Make reading cozy, quality time with you.

Make predictions or “bets.” Constantly ask the child what they think might happen next. Model prediction: “The girl in the story seems pretty brave—I bet she’s going to try to save her family.”

Act out the story. Let the child choose his or her character and assign you one, too. Use funny voices and costumes to bring it to life.

Tips for mastering homework

Sure, kids may universally dread it—but for a parent of a child with ADHD, homework is a golden opportunity. Academic work done outside the classroom provides you as the parent with a chance to directly support your child. It’s a time you can help your child succeed at school where you both feel most comfortable: your own living room.

With your support, kids with ADHD can use homework time not only for math problems or writing essays, but also for practicing the organizational and study skills they need to thrive in the classroom.

Helping a child with ADHD get organized

When it comes to organization, it can help to get a fresh start. Even if it’s not the start of the academic year, go shopping with your child and pick out school supplies that include folders, a three-ring binder, and color-coded dividers. Help the child file his or her papers into this new system.

  • Establish a homework folder for finished homework and organize loose papers by color-coding folders and showing the child how to file appropriately.
  • Help your child organize his or her belongings on a daily basis, including backpack, folders, and even pockets.
  • If possible, keep an extra set of textbooks and other materials at home.
  • Help your child learn to make and use checklists, crossing items off as they are accomplished.

Helping a child with ADHD get homework done on time

Understanding concepts and getting organized are two steps in the right direction, but homework also has to get done in a single evening—and turned in on time. Help a child with ADHD to the finish line with strategies that provide consistent structure.

  • Pick a specific time and place for homework that is as free as possible of clutter, pets, and television.
  • Allow the child breaks as often as every ten to twenty minutes.
  • Teach a better understanding of the passage of time: use an analog clock and timers to monitor homework efficiency.
  • Set up a homework procedure at school: establish a place where the student can easily find his or her finished homework and pick a consistent time to hand in work to the teacher.

Other ways to help your child with homework

Encourage exercise and sleep. Physical activity improves concentration and promotes brain growth. Importantly for children with ADHD, it also leads to better sleep, which in turn can reduce the symptoms of ADHD.

Help your child eat right. Scheduling regular nutritious meals and snacks while cutting back on junk and sugary foods can help manage symptoms of ADHD.

Take care of yourself so you’re better able to care for your child. Don’t neglect your own needs. Try to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, manage stress, and seek face-to-face support from family and friends.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/attention-deficit-disorder-adhd-and-school.htm

Helping Children Cope with Trauma

The intense, confusing, and frightening emotions that follow a traumatic event or natural disaster can be even more pronounced in children—whether they directly experienced the traumatic event or were repeatedly exposed to horrific media images after the fact. While children and adolescents are more vulnerable to being traumatized than adults, with the right support and reassurance they are also able to recover faster. Using these coping tips, you can help your child regain an emotional balance, restore their trust in the world, and move on from the trauma.

What are the effects of trauma on children?

Unexpectedly losing a loved one or being involved in a natural disaster, motor vehicle accident, plane crash, or violent attack can be overwhelmingly stressful for children. A traumatic event can undermine their sense of security, leaving them feeling helpless and vulnerable, especially if the event stemmed from an act of violence, such as a physical assault, mass shooting, or terrorist attack. Even kids or teens not directly affected by a disaster can become traumatized when repeatedly exposed to horrific images of the event on the news or social media.

Effects of Trauma on Kids and Teens

Children age 5 and under may:
  • Show signs of fear
  • Cling to parent or caregiver
  • Cry, scream, or whimper
  • Move aimlessly or become immobile
  • Return to behaviors common to being younger, such as thumb sucking or bed wetting
Children age 6 to 11 may:
  • Lose interest in friends, family, and fun activities
  • Have nightmares or other sleep problems
  • Become irritable, disruptive, or angry
  • Struggle with school and homework
  • Complain of physical problems
  • Develop unfounded fears
  • Feel depressed, emotionally numb, or guilt over what happened
Adolescents age 12 to 17 may:
  • Have flashbacks to the event, nightmares, or other sleep problems
  • Avoid reminders of the event
  • Abuse drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Be disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive
  • Have physical complaints
  • Feel isolated, guilty, or depressed
  • Lose interest in hobbies and interests
  • Have suicidal thoughts

Whatever the age of your child, it’s important to offer extra reassurance and support following a traumatic event. A child’s reaction to a disaster or traumatic event can be greatly influenced by their parents’ response, so it’s important to educate yourself about trauma and traumatic stress. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your child recover. With your love and support, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress can start to fade and your child’s life can return to normal in the days or weeks following the event.

Kids and trauma recovery tip 1: Minimize media exposure

Children who’ve experienced a traumatic event can often find relentless media coverage to be further traumatizing. Excessive exposure to images of a disturbing event—such as repeatedly viewing video clips on social media or news sites—can even create traumatic stress in children or teens who were not directly affected by the event.

Limit your child’s media exposure to the traumatic event. Don’t let your child watch the news or check social media just before bed, and make use of parental controls on the TV, computer, and tablet to prevent your child from repeatedly viewing disturbing footage.

As much as you can, watch news reports of the traumatic event with your child. You can reassure your child as you’re watching and help place information in context.

Avoid exposing your child to graphic images and videos. It’s often less traumatizing for a child or teen to read the newspaper rather than watch television coverage or view video clips of the event.

Tip 2: Engage your child

You can’t force your child to recover from traumatic stress, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together and talking face to face, free from TV, games, and other distractions. Do your best to create an environment where your kids feel safe to communicate what they’re feeling and to ask questions.

Provide your child with ongoing opportunities to talk about what they went through or what they’re seeing in the media. Encourage them to ask questions and express their concerns but don’t force them to talk.

Acknowledge and validate your child’s concerns. The traumatic event may bring up unrelated fears and issues in your child. Comfort for your child comes from feeling understood and accepted by you, so acknowledge their fears even if they don’t seem relevant to you.

Reassure your child. The event was not their fault, you love them, and it’s OK for them to feel upset, angry, or scared.

Don’t pressure your child into talking. It can be very difficult for some kids to talk about a traumatic experience. A young child may find it easier to draw a picture illustrating their feelings rather than talk about them. You can then talk with your child about what they’ve drawn.

Be honest. While you should tailor the information you share according to your child’s age, it’s important to be honest. Don’t say nothing’s wrong if something is wrong.

Do “normal” things with your child, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic event. Encourage your child to seek out friends and pursue games, sports, and hobbies that they enjoyed before the traumatic event. Go on family outings to the park or beach, enjoy a games night, or watch a funny or uplifting movie together.

Tip 3: Encourage physical activity

Physical activity can burn off adrenaline, release mood-enhancing endorphins, and help your child to sleep better at night.

  • Find a sport that your child enjoys. Activities such as basketball, soccer, running, martial arts, or swimming that require moving both the arms and legs can help rouse your child’s nervous system from that “stuck” feeling that often follows a traumatic experience.
  • Offer to participate in sports, games, or physical activities with your child. If they seem resistant to get off the couch, play some of their favorite music and dance together. Once a child gets moving, they’ll start to feel more energetic.
  • Encourage your child to go outside to play with friends or a pet and blow off steam.
  • Schedule a family outing to a hiking trail, swimming pool, or park.
  • Take younger children to a playground, activity center, or arrange play dates.

Tip 4: Feed your child a healthy diet

The food your child eats can have a profound impact on their mood and ability to cope with traumatic stress. Processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary drinks and snacks can create mood swings and worsen symptoms of traumatic stress. Conversely, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help your child better cope with the ups and downs that follow disturbing experience.

Focus on overall diet rather than specific foods. Kids should be eating whole, minimally processed food—food that is as close to its natural form as possible.

Limit fried food, sweet desserts, sugary snacks and cereals, and refined flour. These can all exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress in kids.

Be a role model. The childhood impulse to imitate is strong so don’t ask your child to eat vegetables while you gorge on soda and French fries.

Cook more meals at home. Restaurant and takeout meals have more added sugar and unhealthy fat so cooking at home can have a huge impact on your kids’ health. If you make large batches, cooking just a few times can be enough to feed your family for the whole week.

Make mealtimes about more than just food. Gathering the family around a table for a meal is an ideal opportunity to talk and listen to your child without the distraction of TV, phones, or computers.

Tip 5: Rebuild trust and safety

Trauma can alter the way a child sees the world, making it suddenly seem a much more dangerous and frightening place. Your child may find it more difficult to trust both their environment and other people. You can help by rebuilding your child’s sense of safety and security.

Create routines. Establishing a predictable structure and schedule to your child’s or teen’s life can help to make the world seem more stable again. Try to maintain regular times for meals, homework, and family activities.

Minimize stress at home. Try to make sure your child has space and time for rest, play, and fun.

Manage your own stress. The more calm, relaxed, and focused you are, the better you’ll be able to help your child.

Speak of the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among traumatized children that the future is scary, bleak, and unpredictable.

Keep your promises. You can help to rebuild your child’s trust by being trustworthy. Be consistent and follow through on the things you say you’re going to do.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to admit it. Don’t jeopardize your child’s trust in you by making something up.

Remember that children often personalize situations. They may worry about their own safety even if the traumatic event occurred far away. Reassure your child and help place the situation in context.

When to seek treatment for your child’s trauma

Usually, your child’s feelings of anxiety, numbness, confusion, guilt, and despair following a traumatic event will start to fade within a relatively short time. However, if the traumatic stress reaction is so intense and persistent that it’s getting in the way of your child’s ability to function at school or home, they may need help from a mental health professional—preferably a trauma specialist.

Warning signs include:

  • It’s been six weeks, and your child is not feeling any better
  • Your child is having trouble functioning at school
  • Your child is experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • The symptoms of traumatic stress appear as physical complaints such as headaches, stomach pains, or sleep disturbances
  • Your child is having an increasingly difficult time relating to friends and family
  • Your child or teen is experiencing suicidal thoughts
  • Your child is avoiding more and more things that remind them of the traumatic event

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/helping-children-cope-with-traumatic-stress.htm

I Want to Die (Suicidal Thoughts)

Each day thousands of people are tormented by the thought, I want to die. If you’ve been having thoughts like this, we want to let you know that you are not alone. Many of us have experienced suicidal thoughts at some point in our lives. However, it is also important for you to know that the feeling of hopeless you may currently be experiencing is temporary;  help is available and there is hope, even though you may not feel that way at the moment.

The thought “I want to die,” usually comes up when people are in so much psychological pain that they feel they can no longer bear it. We understand how terrible this pain feels, and we want to help make it tolerable for you. This pain is often made worse by thoughts of being a burden to others or not belonging anywhere. The combination of these Critical Inner Voices and the emotional pain people are feeling can lead them to believe that they shouldn’t be alive and the people in their  lives would be better off without them. However, this is never the case. Harming yourself will only hurt the people that you love. Studies show that each person who commits suicide directly impacts at least seven people. Furthermore, the feeling of being in unbearable pain will pass. The most important thing to do is to keep yourself safe while you are feeling this bad.

How to Make a Safety Plan

  • First, recognize when you are starting to feel really bad, when things are starting to feel dark for you, or you begin to feel anxious. It is a lot easier to deal with these feelings when you catch them early.
  • Plan specific actions that you will take when you start to feel bad. These will help interfere with two behaviors that fuel a suicidal state: passivity and isolation.
  • What activity are you going to do to make yourself feel better? (ie: take a walk, play with your dog, bake brownies, meditate, watch a funny movie)
    Where are you going to go to be with people and take your mind off your negative thoughts? (ie: to the mall, to the park, to an athletic event)
  • Who are you going call to talk to? (ie: a specific friend, relative, minister) Make sure that you have that person’s phone number.
  • Do you have a therapist or counselor you can talk to? How can you contact them? Keep their contact information in your phone.
  • And finally, make sure that you have the Suicide Hot Line Number – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – in your phone

What To Do When You Think I Want to Die

Promise Not to Do Anything to Harm Yourself Right Now

Suicidal thoughts come and go. Even though you may be in a tremendous amount of pain right now, it is important not to act impulsively on your self-destructive thoughts.  Make a promise with a friend, a therapist or with yourself that you will not do anything to harm yourself for a certain amount of time.

Many people find it helpful to follow the “3 day rule” when they feel as though they want to die. As one blogger, who has struggled with suicidal thoughts explains:

“For me I have a 3 day rule. If even for one moment you feel a smidge of joy or like life is actually worth living, you have to start the 3 days again.”

This rule does not imply, by any means, that someone should choose to die by suicide if three days go by without feeling hopeful. However, it can give people who are hurting some distance between the thoughts and the action. Putting time between the thoughts and the action saves lives, because no matter how permanent the pain may feel, the suicidal thoughts will come and go, they will not last forever.

Make Yourself Safe

Take the necessary precautions to make yourself safe. Remove any items you could use to harm yourself from your home. Do not isolate yourself.

Talk to Someone

People are often too nervous, ashamed or afraid to talk about the fact that they are having suicidal thoughts. However, sharing these feelings with someone you trust is often the first step to feeling better. Find someone you trust, such as a friend, therapist, family member, teacher, member of the clergy or counselor for a helpline. Let the person know how bad you are really feeling. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you are suicidal and/or have a suicide plan.

Seeking professional help from a therapist can be particularly helpful. Calling a helpline, such as the National Lifeline or Samaritans, can be an easy, free and anonymous way to get help. The helplines are open 24 hours a day and offer chat or email features, if you prefer to communicate by text.

Just talking about how you feel and how you got to this point in your life can be a huge relief and help you find a way to cope with the pain you are currently experiencing.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Alcohol and drugs often intensify suicidal thoughts. Avoid all alcohol and any drugs that have not been prescribed to you by your doctor.

Regulate Your Sleep

Lack of sleep can contribute to depression and lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts. Try to regulate your sleep, aiming for eight hours a night. If you find yourself without any energy and sleeping most of the day, it is important to get up and try to do something active. Even if it feels, like the last thing in the world you want to do.

Exercise

Studies show that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants when it comes to treating depression and anxiety. Try to get your heart rate up for 20 minutes a day, five days a week; it has been scientifically proven to help you will feel better emotionally. Even just taking a walk around your neighborhood can help your body start to release endorphins, which reduces depression.

Challenge Negative Thoughts About Yourself

Suicidal thoughts are usually accompanied by a lot of other negative thoughts about ourselves. It is important to recognize that these negative thoughts are not accurate. They are a part of your Critical Inner Voice and you can challenge them.

Treat Yourself the Way You Would Treat a Friend

It is important to have compassion for yourself in your suffering. Instead of beating yourself up for feeling bad, try to treat yourself the way that you would treat a good friend. As Dr. Stacey Freedenthal suggests:

“Think of everything that is going wrong in your life. Think of all the reasons you have for dying by suicide. Now imagine that someone you care about very much came to you with the same problems, the same reasons, the same desires to die. What would you tell them? Would you say to this person you care about, “You’re right, you should kill yourself”? If not, why?”

The practice of treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion as you would treat a friend is called self-compassion. There are three steps to practicing self-compassion:

  • Acknowledge and notice your suffering.
  • Be kind and caring in response to suffering.
  • Remember that imperfection is part of the human experience and something we all share.

Therapies that Help

There are several types of therapy that have been proven to reduce suicidal thoughts. Below we have included links to directories for therapists trained in these specific therapies.

Cognitive Behavioral

Dialectic Behavior Therapy

Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidal

Medications that Help

There are many medications available to treat depression and reduce suicidal thoughts. There are over twenty different antidepressants currently approved by the FDA. It is important to work with a doctor to find the right medication for you. If you have tried antidepressants in the past but did not find them effective, it could be beneficial to try another kind.

Websites that Help

There are some fantastic resources online that can help when you feel like you want to die. We have included links to some of these websites below.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Samaritans

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Speaking of Suicide

Befrienders.org

HelpGuide.org

http://www.psychalive.org/i-want-to-die/

 

How to Know If You’re a Victim of Gaslighting

Gas lighting is a malicious and hidden form of mental and emotional abuse, designed to plant seeds of self-doubt and alter your perception of reality. Like all abuse, it’s based on the need for power, control, or concealment. Some people occasionally lie or use denial to avoid taking responsibility. They may forget or remember conversations and events differently than you do, or they may have no recollection — say, due to a blackout if they were drinking. These situations are sometimes called gas-lighting, but the term actually refers to a deliberate pattern of manipulation calculated to make the victim trust the perpetrator while doubting his or her own perceptions or sanity, similar to brainwashing. (See “How to Spot Manipulation.”)

The term derives from the play of the same title, and later, the film with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in which Bergman plays a sensitive, trusting wife struggling to preserve her identity in an abusive marriage to Boyer, who tries to convince her that she’s ill in order to keep her from learning the truth.

Gaslighting Behavior

As in the movie, the perpetrator often acts concerned and kind to dispel suspicions. Someone capable of persistent lying and manipulation is also quite capable of being charming and seductive. Often the relationship begins that way. When the gaslighting starts, you might even feel guilty for doubting a person you’ve come to trust. To further play with your mind, an abuser might offer evidence to show that you’re wrong or question your memory or senses. More justification and explanation, including expressions of love and flattery, are concocted to confuse you and reason away any discrepancies in the liar’s story. You get temporary reassurance, but you increasingly doubt your own senses, ignore your gut, and become more confused.

The person gaslighting you might act hurt and indignant or play the victim when challenged or questioned. Covert manipulation can easily turn into overt abuse, with accusations that you’re distrustful, ungrateful, unkind, overly sensitive, dishonest, stupid, insecure, crazy, or abusive. Abuse might escalate to anger and intimidation with punishment, threats, or bullying if you don’t accept the false version of reality.

Gaslighting can take place in the workplace or in any relationship. Generally, it concerns control, infidelity, or money. A typical scenario is when an intimate partner lies to conceal a relationship with someone else. In other cases, it may be to conceal gambling debts or stock or investment losses. The manipulator is often a narcissist, addict, or a sociopath, particularly if gaslighting is premeditated or used to cover up a crime. In one case, a sociopath was stealing from his girlfriend whose apartment he shared. She gave him money each month to pay the landlord, but he kept it. He hacked into her credit cards and bank accounts, but was so devious that to induce her trust he bought her gifts with her money and pretended to help her find the hacker. It was only when the landlord eventually informed her that she was way behind in the rent that she discovered her boyfriend’s treachery.

When the motive is purely control, a spouse might use shame to undermine his or her partner’s confidence, loyalty, or intelligence. A wife might attack her husband’s manhood and manipulate him by calling him weak or spineless. A husband might undermine his wife’s self-esteem by criticizing her looks or competence professionally or as a mother. To further isolate the victim and gain greater control, a typical tactic is either to claim that friends or relatives agree with the manipulator, or to disparage them so that that they cannot be trusted A similar strategy is employed to undermine the partner’s relationships with friends and relatives by accusing him or her of disloyalty.

Effects of Gaslighting

Gaslighting can be very insidious the longer it occurs. Initially, you may not realize you’re being affected by it, but gradually you lose trust in your own instincts and perceptions. It can be very damaging, particularly in a relationship built on trust and love. Love and attachment are strong incentives to believe the lies and manipulation. We use denial, because we would rather believe the lie than the truth, which might precipitate a painful breakup.

Gaslighting can damage our self-confidence and self-esteem, our trust in ourselves and reality, and our openness to love again. If it involves verbal abuse, we may believe the truth of the abuser’s criticisms and continue to blame and judge ourselves, even after the relationship is over. Many abusers put down and intimidate their partners to make them dependent, so that they won’t leave. Examples are: “You’ll never find anyone as good as me,” “The grass isn’t greener,” or “No one else would put up with you.”

Recovering from a breakup or divorce can be more difficult when we’ve been in denial about problems in the relationship. Denial often continues even after the truth comes out. In the story described above, the woman got engaged to her boyfriend — even after she found out what he’d done. It takes time for us to reinterpret our experience in light of all the facts, once they become known. It can be quite confusing, because we may love the charmer, but hate the abuser. This is especially true if all the bad behavior was out of sight, and memories of the relationship were mostly positive. We lose not only the relationship and the person we loved and/or shared a life with, but also our trust in ourselves and future relationships. Even if we don’t leave, the relationship is forever changed. In some cases, when both partners are motivated to stay and work together in conjoint therapy, the relationship can be strengthened and the past forgiven.

Recovery From Gaslighting

Learn to identify the perpetrator’s behavior patterns, and realize that they’re due to his or her insecurity and shame, not yours. Then get help: It’s critical that you have a strong support system to validate your reality in order to combat gaslighting. Isolation makes the problem worse and relinquishes your power to the abuser. You could join Codependents Anonymous, along with seeking counseling.

After you acknowledge what’s going on, you’ll be better able to detach and stop believing or reacting to falsehoods, even though you may want to. You’ll also realize that the gaslighting is occurring due to your partner’s serious character problems. It does not reflect on you, nor can you change someone else. For an abuser to change, it takes willingness and effort by both partners. Sometimes when one person changes, the other also does so in response. However, if he or she is an addict or has a personality disorder, change is difficult. (To assess your relationship and effectively confront unwanted behavior, see the book Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People.)

Once victims come out of denial, it’s common for them to mentally want to redo the past. They’re often self-critical for not having trusted themselves or stood up to the abuse. Don’t do this! Instead of perpetuating self-abuse, learn more about how to stop self-criticism and raise your self-esteem. (For more on how to stop abuse, see the book How to Be Assertive and Set Boundaries.)

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201801/how-know-if-youre-victim-gaslighting

Emotional Abuse

“Emotional violence is another kind of abuse … it’s not about words because an emotionally abusive person doesn’t always resort to using the verbal club, but rather the verbal untraceable poison.”  ~ Augusten Burroughs

It was after reading the above passage in a book I recently completed by Augusten Burroughsthat I stopped dead in my tracks.  Emotional abuse?  This concept was something completely new to me.  The words settled like lead inside of my head.  What I had discovered in those precise few moments, was the exact description for the subtle abuse I was, and still am, facing from my estranged parents.  I read on:

“They may, in fact, speak very kind words to you.  And appear nothing but supportive to those around you.  Their covert abuse is administered in small, cunning ways over time.  So the impact is gradual, not fist-to-the-eye immediate.”

What struck me about this quote is the fact that emotional abusers are very passive, very subtle, very quiet.

The tricky thing with emotional abuse like anything quiet and unobtrusive is that it can be overlooked easily, blending into the background of life.  Luckily, however, it can lead traces of something “not being quite right” in your relationships – something wrong that you just can’t quite put your finger on.

My hope is that this article will help introduce, or reintroduce, you to the world of emotional abuse.  If you do decide to continue reading, please consider introspecting and reflecting on yourself and the people in your life.  It could make all the difference in the world.

Emotional Abuse: The Devil’s Quiet Sister

Emotional abuse is also known as psychological or mental abuse.  Its aim is to control, belittle, isolate and shame other people into subservience.  This happens little by little over time, so that the victim’s sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-concept and own ideas and perceptions erode.  Many emotional abusers operate under the guise that they are “teaching”, “advising”, “correcting”, and/or “guiding”, and therefore fly under the radar, spreading their poison for years upon years.

Types of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse rarely just involves criticisms or put-downs.  I’ve listed some more kinds of abuse below that you should be wary of.  Also, be a bit careful when you read this list.  For instance, you may find one or two symptoms of emotional abuse apparent in your life, but it doesn’t necessarily make your relationships absolutely and utterly emotionally abusive.  The more symptoms you recognize, the more likely you’re experiencing emotional abuse.

1.  Control and Domination.

  • They may control your money and your spending.
  • They may treat you as an inferior person.
  • They may make you feel small by reminding you of your faults and shortcomings.
  • They may make you feel as though they’re always right, and you’re always wrong.
  • You may feel the need to “get permission” for everything you do, or decision you have to make.
  • They may give you disapproving, or condescending looks and comments.
  • They may “chastise” you, and treat you like a child.
  • They may control where you go, who you interact with, and/or what you do.
  • They’re excessively possessive and jealous.

2.  Isolation and Neglect.

  • They may have difficulty taking responsibility for their actions.  Instead, they deflect the blame onto you.
  • They may have no regard for, and no interest in, the way you feel.
  • They may use “the silent treatment” to punish you.
  • They may withdraw affection from you to punish you.
  • They may become deliberately emotionally distant from you for long periods of time.
  • They purposely neglect to share important pieces of information with you.
  • They may neglect to give you privacy, or purposely disrespect your boundaries.

3.  Bullying and Humiliation.

  • They may call you names, or label you.
  • They may belittle your success and triumphs.
  • They may mock, impersonate or otherwise talk to you in sarcastic ways.
  • They may accuse you of things that you never did.
  • They may degrade or subtly humiliate you in front of other people.
  • They may frequently make jokes at your own expense.
  • You may feel intimidated or scared when voicing an opinion.

What to Read & Where to Go to Find Out More

If you are experiencing emotional abuse, or if you’re the one inflicting it, I’ve composed a list of resources that can help assist you with this quiet killer.

  • The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick
  • Emotional Abuse on Helpguide.org (including numbers you can call for help)
  • Stories and experiences with emotional abuse (a community)
  • Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Dr. Gregory L. Jantz
  • How To Stop Being Abusive (an article)
  • How to Deal With Emotionally Abusive Parents (an article on WikiHow)

https://lonerwolf.com/emotional-abuse/

 

 

Gaslighting

The only way you can describe how you feel is that you feel minimized.  You feel crushed and smothered.  You’re constantly second-guessing yourself; your feelings, your perceptions, your memories, and a small, suffocated part inside of you wonders whether you are actually going crazy.

You feel neurotic, you feel hyper-sensitive and you feel an overwhelming sense of alienation.

What is wrong with you?

If you can identify with what I just wrote, you are most likely experiencing a sophisticated manipulation technique known as Gaslighting.  This technique undermines your entire perception of reality and can slowly creep into your relationships, friendships, family life and work life.

Although you might feel crazy, although you might feel imbalanced and irrational, there is still hope.

What is Gaslighting?

Inspired by the 1940 and 1944 films “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “Gaslighting” is now commonly used to describe behavior that is inherently manipulative.

Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of emotional abuse that slowly eats away at your ability to make judgments.  Essentially, a Gaslighter spins their negative, harmful or destructive words and actions in their favor, deflecting the blame for their abusive deeds and pointing the finger at you.  This is often done by making you feel “overly sensitive,” “paranoid,” “mentally unstable,” “silly,” “unhinged,” and many other sensations which cause you to doubt yourself.

Commonly adopted by psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic types of people, Gaslighting tends to eat away at you slowly until you realize that you’re a shell of the former person you were.

3 Examples of Gaslighting

Let’s take a look at some examples of Gaslighting.

In a family scenario:  Andrew’s father is an angry, bitter man.  Every day Andrew is afraid to “tip the balance” of his father’s mood because he often bursts out in fits of rage calling Andrew a “bastard” and a “worthless little loser,” among many other hurtful names.  When Andrew confronts his father about this aggressive name calling, Andrew’s father laughs and tells him “to stop being so sensitive.”

In a relationship scenario:  Jade has been married for 5 years and has two small children with her husband Mike.  For the past few months Jade has been trying to establish a small art shop, but when she asks for her husband’s assistance his mood darkens: “I can’t believe you’re spending so much time on this shop—don’t you care about me—don’t you care about your kids?  You’re supposed to be mothering them!” he exclaims.  Jade is shocked, “But I just wanted you to help me with setting up the store!  And I haven’t been neglecting anyone!”  Mike comes up very close to Jade’s face: “You see!   Now you’re denying it.  When I married you I thought you’d be there for your family.  I should just take the kids and go already!”  Mike storms off.  Later, when Jade sits down to talk with Mike about his threat, Mike says, “Honey, you know you were over reacting, and you know that you’ve been obsessing over this shop too much.  That makes the rest of us feel very ignored and excluded, I hope you understand that.”

At work scenario:  Sophie has been working in her department for the past five years when she is given a promotion to migrate to another level of the company that pays a higher salary.  However, Sophie has been given a trial period to determine whether she is capable of fulfilling her duties or not.  Nervously, she meets with her new supervisor, Kelly. At first, Sophie likes her supervisor and fulfills all of her tasks on time.  However, her supervisor begins to ask her to do belittling chores and favors here and there with increasing frequency.  While Sophie is fine with helping out, she finds that Kelly is becoming more and more demanding.  Finally, as Sophie’s work piles up to an unbearable level, she tells Kelly that she needs to focus on completing her work, but she can help another time.  Later, in a staff meeting, Kelly introduces Sophie to everyone and says, “Although she’s not keeping up with us yet, I’m sure she’ll learn to embody our hard-working ethics soon!”  Immediately, Sophie blushes and feels publicly insulted and humiliated, fearing for the security of her new job.  Later when Sophie asks her supervisor why she thinks that “she is not embodying their hard-working ethic,” her supervisor says: “I think you misunderstood me.  I just said that you’re not used to our pace of work so that other people can help you out.”  From then on Sophie accepts all extra demands and chores, no matter how much work she has, or how demeaning the tasks are.

How to Know Whether Someone is Gaslighting You

Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns.  So the question now it: are you being gaslighted?  How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life?  Review the following tell-tale signs:

  1. Something is “off” about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.
  2. You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events leaving you psychologically powerless.
  3. You feel confused and disorientated.
  4. You feel threatened and on-edge around this person, but you don’t know why.
  5. You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
  6. You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.
  7. You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”
  8. You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are “too sensitive.”
  9. You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.
  10. You find it hard to trust your own judgment, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgment of the abuser.
  11. You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.
  12. You find it hard to make decisions because you distrust yourself.
  13. You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.
  14. You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
  15. You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead.

Tactics Used by the Gaslighter

Gaslighters use a variety of subtle techniques to undermine your reality and portray you as the disturbed and messed up one.  These include, for example:

  • Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.
  • Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.” Therefore, eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.
  • Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts, e.g. “You’re imagining things—that never happened!”  “No, you’re wrong, you didn’t remember right.”  “Is that another crazy idea you got from your (family member/friend)?”
  • Minimizing.  By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
  • Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more.  For example, “I don’t remember that, you must have dreamt it!” “You’re lying, I never said that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re changing the subject.”
  • Twisting and reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favor, they can cause you to second-guess yourself—especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth.  For example, “I didn’t say that, I said _____” “I didn’t beat you up Johnny, I just gave you a smack around the head—that’s what all good fathers do.”  “If you remember correctly, I was actually trying to help you.”

Healing the Wounds Ignited by Gaslighting

Gaslighting causes us to doubt our own memories, perceptions, and judgments, throwing us emotionally and psychologically off balance.

If you feel as though your self-esteem, confidence, and independence has withered under the flame of gaslighting you are not alone … and there certainly is hope!

Almost all of us, including myself, have experienced one form of Gaslighting or another throughout life.  The problems arise when Gaslighting is a frequent shadow that trails behind our relationships and partnerships.  The good news is that knowledge and awareness is the first step to healing your life and rebuilding the strong, perceptive person you are … and you have already taken it!

While it is true that in some situations we genuinely might be overreacting, or might genuinely be exhibiting irrational behavior, it is also important for you to listen to your instinct or intuition.  Do you have a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach?  Do you feel weighed down and oppressed?  Do you feel depressed?  These are signs that you have unconsciously picked up on deception and “foul play.”  While we can consciously be fooled, unconsciously we can’t, and often we will have a lingering feeling that “something just isn’t right.”  Make sure that you listen to this feeling and seek help, either professionally or socially (i.e. a trusted group of friends or a support network).  https://lonerwolf.com/gaslighting/

Not just horsing around … psychologists put their faith in equine therapies

In a Sussex field, a large bay horse is galloping around, tail held high. This magnificent creature is one of a new army of animals that is helping therapists to treat everything from addiction to autism to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reports last week showed that dogs, already known to be invaluable helpmates for blind, deaf, diabetic and epileptic owners, were also being trained to help dementia patients.

Now the psychological benefits of working with horses are being recognised by growing numbers of therapists who work with autistic children, young people with behavioural problems, adults with depression or celebrities with addictions.

“The horse is the perfect mirror, they are very emotional beings; we’re only starting to realise how intelligent they are,” said therapy counsellor Gabrielle Gardner, of Shine For Life, watching the horse dance around his pen at a farm in Blackstone, a village a few miles north of Brighton.

“A lot of my clients start off being very nervous, so I wouldn’t always use such a big horse. One of the reasons I think equine-assisted therapies work so well is that everyone has a reaction to horses; nobody is indifferent. People either love them or fear them, so that’s two big emotions that immediately reflect what most of life’s issues revolve around. If you can work with an animal like this and overcome the fear, then it isn’t a bad starting point.”

Gardner has worked with all types of clients, including young offenders, and says a horse picks up on the way people are feeling, mirroring their emotions and responding. As a herd animal attuned to stress and body language, a horse will move away from an angry person, follow someone it trusts and be unsettled when it senses fear.

“It’s especially good for people who don’t take to talking therapies. Counselling is not a ‘one size fits all’. While you might forget a conversation you had with your counsellor a few weeks on, it’s unlikely you’ll forget what happened when you stood in a field with your counsellor and a horse. It’s not like patting a dog; it’s a big animal.”

Gardner, who runs sessions for clients alongside a mental health professional, says the sudden explosion in popularity of horse-based therapies has been helped by the success of the book and film War Horse and a TV series that saw Martin Clunes investigate our relationship with the horse. But another reason is the runaway success of the therapies in the US. Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (Eagala), a US-based organisation, trained 1,500 therapists in Britain in 2011. Coral Harrison, from Cumbria, is their regional coordinator for Europe. “We’re seeing hundreds of new inquiries, whereas a few years ago it would be a handful.”

Scientific research remains thin on the ground and the therapy’s effectiveness remains mostly anecdotal, although The Priory clinic offers equine-assisted therapies, while in the US equine-assisted activities and therapies have attracted celebrity clients including Robert Downey Jr and Sophie Anderton. American horse trainer Franklin Levinson is establishing a regular base for his courses in Dorset, working with troubled children.

“It has been clinically documented that just being around horses changes human brainwave patterns. We calm down and become more centred and focused when we are with horses,” he says. “Horses are naturally empathetic. The members of the herd feel what is going on for the other members of the herd.”

The Horse Boy Foundation – set up by Rupert Isaacson, who wrote a book about riding in Mongolia with his autistic son – is running a new programme of equine therapy camps this summer for autistic children and their families in Britain.

Such efforts have the tentative approval of mainstream scientists. Dr Nicola Martin, an autism expert at the LSE, said she thought anything that brought children and families together would have a positive effect.

“It’s certainly not about healing or curing, because autism is for life, but being out in the countryside, close to nature, doing something enjoyable like interacting with horses, has got to help families come together.”

In Scotland a charity called HorseBack UK is achieving tremendous results using horses to rehabilitate injured and traumatised members of the armed forces. Jock Hutcheson, a former marine, had retired to breed horses when he offered to take a group of former combatants riding. Self-confessed as “horse daft since I was three”, he said that even he hadn’t expected the horses to have such a huge impact. Last year he had 156 people through his Aberdeenshire centre.

He said the trick was offering “mobility with dignity”. He added: “Soldiers don’t make good patients and they don’t want pity, but we want to create a way for them to come back into the world again. The horses have had an enormous effect on them, empowering.”

Using animals as therapy is not new: the Greeks documented the horse’s therapeutic value in 600BC and French physician Cassaign concluded in 1875 that equine therapy helped certain neurological disorders. Dolphins were used in the former Soviet Union to treat nervous disorders and rabbits lower stress levels in American old people’s homes. By the 1950s British physiotherapists were exploring the possibilities of horse therapy for all types of disorders. The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) was founded in 1969 with the enthusiastic support of the royal family and the Queen still shows a keen interest in the work of Californian horse whisperer Monty Roberts, who has been working on bringing horses and troubled children together for several years.

Whether scientists will ever prove that they offer real medical value, our love of animals shows no sign of abating. As Churchill said: “There’s something, about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/feb/26/horses-therapists-stress-autism-addiction

The secret to avoiding weight gain: Don’t diet

Most people attempt a diet at some point in their life. Many of us are on one right now. However, new research says that dieting may be counterproductive and that, actually, the key is eating regularly.
I’ve been on and off of diets for approximately my entire adult life. Although I don’t consider myself overweight, I have a great deal more belly fat than I would like.

The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar affair, proving that I am not alone.

In fact, the vast array of dieting gadgets, books, and videos proves that there is no definitive solution.

Many factors that are involved in weight gain are understood — for example, we know that a sedentary lifestyle, consuming a lot of takeout food and sweet drinks, and smoking will cause us to pile on the pounds. However, there is still much to learn.

Is dieting the answer?

According to new research from the University of Helsinki in Finland, many of us are barking up the wrong nutritional tree; dieting is not the answer at all and, in the long run, it might even harm our chances of maintaining a healthy girth.

One of the researchers involved in the latest effort to understand the factors behind weight gain is Ulla Kärkkäinen, a licensed nutritional therapist.

She explains, “Often, people try to prevent and manage excess weight and obesity by dieting and skipping meals. In the long-term, such approaches seem to actually accelerate getting fatter, rather than prevent it.”

To reach this conclusion, Kärkkäinen and her team used data from the FinnTwin 16 study, which involves more than 4,000 young men and women.

Because early adulthood is a critical time for weight gain (as I know only too well), this group made an ideal study sample. The findings were recently published in the journal Eating Behaviors.

What factors influence weight gain?

The participants all completed surveys regarding dietary and activity habits and other life factors at the age of 24, and then a decade later when they were aged 34.

Across the 10-year period, the majority of participants gained weight — that’s life, I guess. Roughly one quarter of men and women managed to hold down a stable weight, and just 7.5 percent of women and 3.8 percent of men lost any weight.

How marriage changes you physically and mentally, according to science

Every summer, thousands and thousands of couples tie the knot.

That decision has lasting effects on their health over time.

Researchers have identified a variety of trends that show how getting married changes people. There has historically been an idea that marriage is good for your physical and mental health, perhaps due to the idea that having a supportive partner can make a person healthier. But more recent research has revealed that the relationship between marriage, health, and well-being is more complicated, with both benefits and drawbacks.

Evidence suggests that married men and women have a lower risk for certain types of heart disease than their single counterparts, for example, but married people are also more likely to be overweight.

Of course, these observed trends don’t hold true for everyone. Every marriage is different, depending on the individuals involved, their relationship, their plans, lifestyles, and more — without even counting external factors. And there’s much less research on the effects of marriage on same-sex couples so far.

But with that in mind, here are some of the ways that marriage tends to affect partners physically and mentally.

 Married people tend to have better overall health than other adults, even after controlling for age, sex, race, education, income, and other factors. But a large study published last year found those health benefits were mostly observable in older married adults. Among younger adults, married people essentially saw no overall health benefit compared to their unmarried peers.