, , , , , ,

Why Spending Time Alone Is Good For Your Mental Health

Did you know that spending time alone can help you improve your quality of life?

Alone time is something that people either enjoy or fear. Unfortunately, many people struggle with being alone because they’re unsure of what to do.

While being alone can seem daunting, alone time benefits people in many ways if they know how to take advantage of it.

Here at Solara Mental Health, we regularly help people turn their lives around by changing how they think about being alone. We’ll outline why spending time alone is essential so you can also live a better life.

Read on to learn about how to spend time alone and the benefits of doing so.

The Benefits of Alone Time

When spending time alone, many people find it difficult to see what the benefits are. However, you can reap the benefits of alone time if you know how to approach things.

One of the main things we want people to understand is that being alone isn’t the same as loneliness. Alone time is simply time spent away from others, whereas loneliness is the feeling of being without someone.

Voluntarily spending time away from others can allow you to do the following:

Self-Reflect

When you’re constantly interacting with others, it can be challenging to think about yourself. However, self-reflection is crucial if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, as it also comes with many benefits.

Alone time will make it much easier to self-reflect because you won’t be focusing on others. Approach self-reflection with a positive mindset and use the time to improve yourself as a person.

Become More Productive

Alone time benefits those that are looking to get things done. If you’re never alone, you’ll have a hard time doing anything productive (unless it requires others).

Spending time alone will give you the chance to complete that project you’ve been putting off. The sooner you get things done, the quicker you can go back to being social.

Focus on Health

Similar to self-reflection, spending time alone lets people focus on improving their health. Whether it’s physically or mentally, alone time will ensure you can eliminate toxicity in your life and allow yourself to “reset.”

During alone time, think about the foods and beverages you have when surrounded by others. Not only will an unhealthy diet negatively affect your physical health, but it can also affect your mental health. Things like depression caused by a poor diet can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, even when around others.

Find Comfort

If you’re someone that struggles with loneliness, spending time alone can help you learn how to find comfort when away from others.

Those who are afraid of being alone often feel that way because they’re unsure how to use their time. If you can learn how to get the most out of being alone, you can have more control over your life. The comfort that comes with accepting alone time will increase your overall happiness.

How to Get the Most Out of Being Alone

Learning how to spend time alone isn’t difficult; you’ll just need to use that appropriately. If you find that being alone isn’t comforting, you can fill up that time with things to do. Whether it’s work or school obligations, exercise, or hobbies, doing activities will help.

Getting the most out of being alone can be done by planning your alone time and eliminating distractions. Here’s how to do that:

Plan Everything

It’s easy to feel lonely when you have nothing to do, and no one’s around. This can be prevented by thoroughly planning how your days will go.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, your entire day should be planned, including the time you’ll dedicate to doing nothing. While it may seem excessive, it’ll help you stay active, so you don’t end up feeling lonely.

Creating structure in your life will make the time spent alone more enjoyable, especially if you don’t go out much. If you’re someone that actively hangs out with others, you’ll eventually start cherishing the time you get to yourself.

Get Rid of Distractions

Aside from planning your day, you must eliminate distractions if you’d like to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Distractions can prevent you from getting things done, which will make you feel worse if you’re alone.

Whenever you’re working on something, you should never start browsing social media or random things on the internet. Instead, leave your phone in another room and consider getting something that’ll block certain websites so you can work productively.

Another type of distraction is thinking about negative things. For example, you may be watching TV, and a negative thought may cross your mind. Instantly you want to go down the rabbit hole; next thing you know, your upset with yourself because your thoughts took you to a dark place.

Reframe your thoughts and put your thoughts into perspective. Stop the train of thought you are going down and tell yourself out loud that what you’re doing is not right. This will strengthen your mind in order to take control of your thoughts.

It’s best to be engaged with something as often as possible. You’ll notice that relaxing after a long day of work is enjoyable, even if you’re by yourself. This is because you’ve gotten the most out of being alone.

Start Spending Time Alone More Often

With all of this information, you’re ready to reap the benefits of alone time. All you must do is start spending more time alone to get a better understanding of what exactly makes you feel lonely.

We encourage you to prioritize obligations to make your days more satisfying. If you still feel lonely after getting everything done, you can pick up some hobbies to keep your mind off things.

If you’re having a hard time in life, contact us to learn about how we can help you.

, , ,

Starting Over After Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging experiences a person can have. Coming out of a relationship in which this kind of abuse was prevalent requires patience, support, and time to heal. Often, moving on seems easier said than done. 

However, life, on the other side can be beyond rewarding, and starting over, while scary, can sometimes be the best thing. If you are starting over after domestic violence, here are some tips to reclaim your life. 

Establish Safety Protocols

Escaping from domestic violence is sometimes easier said than done. In some instances, the perpetrator will let you go and move on. In other cases, they will continue to pursue the relationship. 

The first step to moving on is establishing protocols to protect yourself. It might include alerting friends and family members to the change in your relationship status, filing any necessary protection orders, and navigating whatever resources are available to you to keep yourself safe. 

Find Support Wherever You Can

Some opt for therapy, while others find they do best in a group setting, like a support group. Still, others opt to talk to people in their lives or others who have been through similar experiences. 

Whatever works for you in terms of support, do it. There is no one way to move on with your life after escaping from domestic violence. Choose the option that best suits your situation and your life and commit to it. The emotional and mental trauma that can remain after domestic violence can be insidious, so support can help you to heal. 

Give Yourself Choices

Domestic violence is often based on control. Victims typically have few, if any, choices on just about anything. So, as much as you can, give yourself options. Learn how to think independently of your trauma. It will also help you learn more about what you want out of life and what you like. 

You may find delight in making even the smallest of choices, from what ice cream to eat at night to what shirt you want to wear in the morning. Celebrate the fact that you’ve reclaimed your life to the point where you can make decisions without fear of reprisal.  

Figure Out What Brings You Joy – And Do It

If you have lived through domestic violence, chances are your former partner did whatever they could to stand between you and joy. Therefore, moving on means reclaiming your happiness. That starts by finding out what brings you joy and doing it!

Perhaps before the relationship you had a hobby or wanted to try something new – but your partner prevented you from pursuing those dreams.

Everything and anything is on the table. 

Consider new ways to live your life out loud that you perhaps had not considered before and go for it. Moving on after such a traumatic experience means finding ways to bring yourself as much joy as you can find. 

Rebuild Relationships

Perpetrators of domestic violence often invest a great deal of time in isolating those that they victimize. You may be reluctant to pick back up on those relationships, but one of the best ways to move on with your life is to take back that power. 

If you were separated from your family members or friends, give them a call. Let them know as much or as little as you are comfortable sharing. Rebuilding relationships will provide you another outlet and also ensures that you have even more support as you move forward in your life.

You might be surprised to find how supportive they are when they find out more about your story. Don’t assume that the people in your life won’t be understanding; if they love you, they will be there for you. 

Set boundaries as you rebuild relationships and make it clear that you are healing. Ask for space to do that and avoid relationships that might represent setbacks or cause you to feel worse about yourself. Re-connecting is an integral part of moving forward and learning more about what you will or won’t tolerate from any relationship, romantic or otherwise. 

Cultivate a Positive Inner Voice

Chances are, while you were dealing with domestic violence, you either quieted your inner voice or suffered a great deal of negative self-talk. There is no greater time to change that than now. Moving on with your life means being much nicer to yourself.

Do all of the things you wished someone would do for you while you were in the relationship:

  • Compliment yourself in the mirror every day.
  • Wear your favorite clothing and tell yourself how pretty you look.
  • Congratulate yourself on how well you are doing.
  • Celebrate every single milestone, no matter how big or small.
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself.

The more you cultivate a positive inner voice, the more capable you will be in creating a life worth living.

Take it Slow

Healing is not a linear path, and you may find that it takes time to move on with your life after the trauma of domestic violence. While there is an entire life waiting for you, there is no need to rush into it. 

You have to learn to become comfortable with yourself again. It is especially true if you were in an abusive relationship for a lengthy period. It may be all you know, and it may take some time for you to learn how to live outside of that trauma again.

So, make a move today and contact one of our knowledgable professionals here at our Mental Health and Psychiatric Facility. We will be here waiting to assist you at Solara Mental Health Clinic

, , , , ,

Recognizing and Understanding the Cycle of Abuse

Abuse can be hard to understand and recognize, especially when you’re not familiar with the cycle of abuse and how it works. However, knowing this information could potentially save you or someone else’s life! 

If you’re struggling with abuse and mental health problems, then keep reading to learn more about this serious topic. 

Cycle of Abuse

This four-part cycle helps distinguish certain behaviors and patterns that abusive partners tend to have. By knowing these patterns of abuse, you can better protect yourself in future and current relationships. 

The four-part cycle starts with tension building, then an incident where abuse or violence takes place. After that, reconciliation is made, followed by a calm state. This tragic cycle repeats itself over and over again until the victim becomes worn down.

1. Tension Building

Tension building can be brought on by anything. Some of the triggers for an abusive partner are fatigue, overworking, being hungry, and other family issues.

The abusive partner will then begin to show signs of anger, fear, and feeling unempowered in the relationship. The tension that builds up as a result of these feelings can weigh heavily on you.

You might try to find a peaceful resolution. However, there may not be a solution until the abusive partner feels in control again.

Because of this, you might start feeling anxious and even scared. It is considered emotional abuse. Often, abusive partners use this tactic to inflict pain on others. 

2. Incidents of Abuse or Violence

Once the abuser has reached the breaking point, they will externalize these feelings. Abusers will use physical and verbal tactics to gain back control.

For example, they won’t allow you to wear certain clothes, or they’ll make you cut off communication with family and friends. Sometimes these tactics turn into sexual and physical aggressions. 

It is the most dangerous stage of the cycle. In fact, a recent report stated that six women die every hour as a result of domestic violence.

3. Reconciliation 

This stage in an abusive relationship can be very confusing. Often, the victim thinks that the abuse has stopped because the abuser has calmed down.

The abuser will start to show the victim their preferred love language like gift-giving or physical touch. Unfortunately, this “honeymoon” stage only lasts for a little bit.  

Often, those in a normal relationship don’t understand why the victim “doesn’t just leave.” For starters, the victim might not be physically or financially able to leave the relationship. 

The abuser might also hurt them for trying.

Most importantly, mental abuse causes a shift in a person’s brain chemistry. During the “honeymoon” stage, the victim’s brain releases oxytocin and dopamine.

Often, the victim is longing for this gratification, but the abusive partner will withhold affection to gain control. This causes the victim to stay and chase this feeling of “happiness.”

4. Calm State

During the calm state, the abuser will try and justify their abuse by apologizing. However, the apology is never sincere. It is really just a tactic to make the victim think the abuse won’t happen again.

The abuser will also blame their actions on others or sometimes the victim.

Here are some examples:

  • “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you made me mad.”
  • “Sorry for snapping you earlier; it’s just my job has been stressing me out.”
  • “The only reason I hit you was because you were provoking me.”
  • “I didn’t even hit you that hard; you should get over it.”

After their apology, the abuser will convince the victim that it won’t happen again. They might try to manipulate you by making the situation seem smaller.

You might start doubting yourself and think that you were dramatic. And slowly, you start believing that your partner will change. 

How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?

This cycle of abuse can leave someone with permanent damage. Many times battered women and men show symptoms of PTSD.

This mental disorder can bring on intense feelings of anxiety and paranoia, even if the victim has left the relationship. Over time, being in an abusive relationship can diminish someone’s self-worth and confidence.

It happens because the abuser is constantly attacking them and making them feel less than them. The abuser will use this tactic to wear down an individual not to seek happiness outside of the relationship.

Battered women and men are also likely to develop depression and suicidal ideations. Overall, being in an abusive relationship can deteriorate someone’s mental health. That’s why it’s essential to get help immediately!

Gaslighting and Manipulation 

Gaslighting and manipulation go hand in hand with the four stages of abuse. For starters, gaslighting is a form of lying by creating a false reality. 

For example, if a person finds their spouse cheating on them and the abuser outright denies the accusations, this is considered gaslighting. 

This tactic makes the victim’s reality and perception unclear. Often, the victim will feel “crazy,” but just because they don’t know what’s real and fake anymore. 

Manipulation is similar to gaslighting. For example, an abuser will try and control a situation by providing false information or showing empathy. Nevertheless, the abuser is doing this to establish control over a person.

Red Flags to Look Out For

All of the abuse mentioned doesn’t necessarily begin at the start of a relationship. Sometimes abusers will withhold these strong emotions and actions until they feel secure. 

However, there are minor signs that you should look out for during the start of a relationship. For example, love bombing is when a partner shows a lot of attention and affection during the first few weeks of being together.

It may seem normal at first, but this will progress at an unusual pace. The abuser might tell you they love you and that they want you to meet their family.

The problem with love bombing is that when the abuser has “locked” you down, they begin to withhold love. Love bombing eventually turns into a cycle of abuse.

Living Your Truth 

Abusive relationships can leave you feeling hopeless. But knowing the cycle of abuse can give you back some power! If you or a loved one is struggling with an abusive relationship, get help immediately!

If you have any more questions, contact us today to receive more information on our different services!

How Does Mental Trauma Affect You Physically ?

PTSD, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, occurs after you have been through a shocking or dangerous life event. Close to 10% of the population will experience PTSD at some point throughout their lives.

If you have experienced mental trauma, if you have PTSD or PTSD symptoms, or if you are concerned about your mental health, you can find help. Keep reading to learn more about the physical manifestations of trauma and how mental trauma affects your health.

What Is Mental Trauma?

Mental trauma can arise from a variety of events in your past that have had psychological effects. For many, this type of trauma looks like a traumatic childhood—any type of violent assault, accidents, or witnessing some other horrific event.

Most of these incidents that result in trauma are life-threatening and may trigger both emotional and physical responses.

What Are Physical Manifestations of Trauma?

Because traumatic events put your body through so much stress, there are many physical manifestations of trauma and PTSD. In fact, this type of trauma can make people more likely to develop health conditions like heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and more.

While there are many extreme physical manifestations of trauma, such as disease, there are also other physical reactions that are on a smaller scale. These include headaches, muscle tension, an upset stomach, extreme tiredness, and more.

If you are unsure if you are experiencing PTSD symptoms, you can reach out to a doctor for a screening and an assessment.

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms can occur within months of a traumatic event, but may not even arise until years later. There are four types of PTSD symptoms. These are intrusive memories, changes in both physical and emotional responses, avoidance, and negative changes in thinking and mood.

One thing that is important to note about PTSD symptoms is that they can change over time. They may be more prevalent when you are stressed or when you are reminded of your trauma, or they may just get more intense over time.

Some people can have more than one type of symptom and they may vary over time and from person to person. Here is more information about PTSD and the common examples of each type of these symptoms.

Intrusive Memories

Some common examples of intrusive memories include flashbacks to your traumatic event, nightmares about the traumatic event, and severe reactions and distress that occur when you are in a similar situation as the traumatic event.

Avoidance Symptoms

Common avoidance symptoms include avoiding talking about the traumatic event and even avoiding people or places that remind you of the traumatic event. Avoidance keeps you from talking about the issue at hand. It acts as a way to bury your trauma and keeps you from overcoming your mental trauma.

Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood

If you are experiencing negative changes in thinking and mood, you may feel numb, detached, and even hopeless about your future. These negative changes make it hard for you to experience happiness and it keeps you from enjoying things you once loved.

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

Finally, PTSD can cause changes in both your physical reactions and your emotional reactions. For example, some people who experience this PTSD symptom are easily startled or frightened. They may always be on guard and paranoid about danger.

How to Find Help

There are many things you can do to find help if you are struggling with PTSD or any other type of mental or emotional trauma. While many have the natural instinct to withdraw and isolate themselves, this is one of the worst things you can do to deal with trauma.

It is important to continue doing the things that make you happy and being with others. It may help you to use others as a source of comfort. By talking things through, it can help you work through your feelings rather than fixating on the traumatic event.

Therapy is also a great way to find help as you are recovering from mental trauma. It isn’t a quick fix, but it will allow you to get to the root of your issues and overcome them.

It is important that you can’t just change how you feel. You can’t expect to “cheer up” overnight. If you are willing to put in the work, find a trusted therapist, and do things that help you feel like yourself, you can begin to recover from your trauma.

It is important to know that you can find help with your mental trauma recovery. While symptoms may vary over time, it is important to know when you should see a doctor. If you have had disturbing or severe thoughts, if you feel like you can’t get your life under control, or if you have any other serious issues, it may be time to talk to a doctor or therapist.

The sooner you get treatment, the easier it is to prevent your symptoms from worsening. Make sure you always reach out to a friend, loved one, or doctor when you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Learn More About Mental Trauma Recovery Today

If you have experienced mental trauma or have seen PTSD symptoms in your own life, you can find help! By reaching out to a mental health clinic, you can learn how to cope with and even overcome the traumatic events you have been through. If you are looking for a reliable mental health clinic, Solara Mental Health can help!

Our team offers comprehensive treatment for mental illnesses in San Diego, California. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you through a traumatic event.

Understanding Self-Blame: Why Do Victims of Abuse Blame Themselves?

Did you know that 7 to 8% of the population will experience post-traumatic stress syndrome at some point in their life? It’s important to remember that the trauma that causes this condition is never the victim’s fault. Unfortunately, one of the main symptoms of PTSD is self-blame.

This is troubling because self-blame can lead recovering victims down a dark mental health path — one that can lead individuals to self-harm. So why is it that victims of abusive situations blame themselves for the actions of others? In this article, we’ll help explain where this blame comes from and what you or your loved ones can do to address it. Let’s get started!

Where Does Self-Blame Come From?

It’s important to remember that self-blame isn’t always a bad thing. When we hurt others self-blame can make us acknowledge the hurt we’ve caused. From there we can learn from our mistakes and try to be more empathetic in the future. In this way, self-blame can make us more human.

Unfortunately, there’s a tendency for people suffering from middle to complex trauma to blame themselves for abuse. This is a problem because they often do it when they objectively were not responsible for it. This type of toxic self-blame can happen to any victim of trauma. However, it’s particularly prevalent for survivors of sexual and physical abuse.

Why is this? Well, in many of these cases the abuser is a loved one — a family member or a partner. Generally, these individuals are supposed to protect the victim. So, when they do the opposite, the blame tends to fall (incorrectly) on the victim instead. There is also the societal factor to consider.

As we will see, society often teaches victims of sexual abuse that their trauma was avoidable. So, self-blame related to trauma comes from a variety of different places. To understand in more detail let’s take a closer look at five common reasons why victims blame themselves.

Five Reasons Why Victims of Abuse Often Blame Themselves

The real reason why trauma victims self-blame isn’t always easy to find. In many cases, it can take months or years of trauma group therapy to find. However, some popular reasons are often cited. In this section, we’ll briefly dive into each of these.

1. Manipulation or Gaslighting From Partners

Many of the self-blame cases dealing with domestic abuse arise from instances of manipulation or gaslighting from the abusive partner. Often these individuals fail to take responsibility for their actions.

Instead, they will shift the blame onto the victims. Or, worse, they’ll convince the victim that the abuse isn’t even happening. This can be heightened when the abuser is considered nice by other people. This allows both the abuser and their peers, to downplay any of their actions. As a result, the victim blames the next most logical person: themselves.

2. Victim Blaming

Victim blaming is one of the plagues our society suffers in regards to sexual abuse trauma. This occurs when individuals blame the victim for their assault instead of the person that committed the assault. You’ve likely seen this type of blaming from family members, social media accounts, and even the media. Here are some of the common victim-blaming phrases you’ll hear:

  • “Why were they dressed like that?”
  • “Why were they drinking?”
  • “They shouldn’t have given mixed signals.”

It’s not hard to see why a victim would blame themselves after hear such awful comments. Unfortunately, when people hear that bad things happen to someone, their first instinct is to see the person as a bad individual. Indeed, a landmark psychological study seems to confirm this.

3. Toxic Self-Criticism

Toxic self-criticism is especially prevalent in childhood victims of trauma. This symptom occurs when individuals are unfairly blamed, or held to impossibly high standards.

This results in an internalized judgment that arises in the form of a negative voice. This negative voice tells the victim thing like “you’re bad” or you’re worthless”. The result is heightened self-blame and incredibly low self-esteem. When the victim’s standards are raised impossibly high, then it can even be debilitating.

4. Poor Self-Care

Victims of abuse often don’t take proper self-care measures after their trauma occurs. Often this is because they feel unworthy of any sort of care. Or, it’s because they’re forced to care for others and, as a result, don’t have time to care for themselves.

If left unchecked, then this lack of self-care can quickly turn into self-harm. In the victim’s mind, they often see themselves as deserving of punishment, even when they’re not.

5. Chronic Feelings of Anxiety, Guilt, and Shame

People who struggle with trauma and the self-blame that accompanies them often experience heightened emotional states. The most common emotions are also some of the most painful ones: anxiety, guilt, and shame. Typically, these emotions when the person is alone or not seeking therapy.

When isolated in your head, it’s easy to begin overthinking your trauma. This causes the chronic emotions to only get worse. If you want to learn more about the effect that self-blame has on the brain and emotions, then make sure to check out this article here.

Need Help Addressing Trauma? Contact Solara Mental Health

We hope this article helped you understand why victims of trauma often experience self-blame. Whether you suffer from PTSD yourself, or someone you love does, treatment is an essential part of healthy recovery. Unfortunately, finding a mental health treatment center that you can trust is often difficult.

However, if you live in the Southern California area, then look no further than Solara Mental Health. We believe in combining progressive psychotherapy with holistic life advice. This allows our patients to address the trauma in their lives while also learning healthy coping practices. If you’re ready to get the help you deserve for your PTSD, then make sure to get in touch with us today.

5 Important Complex PTSD Symptoms that You Shouldn’t Ignore

Post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, affects about 8 million people each year in the United States.

While you may have heard of PTSD, there is another type called complex PTSD, or C-PTSD.

But what is the difference between C-PTSD and PTSD? What are come complex PTSD symptoms and how do they overlap with PTSD?

In this article, you’ll learn more about C-PTSD and what symptoms you need to be aware of.

What is Complex PTSD?

To start, PTSD is a mental condition that arises due to intense traumatic events such as a car accident, a death, war, sexual trauma, or other similar instances. PTSD doesn’t discriminate and affects people at any age, even children.

Complex PTSD is a bit more involved. There are different symptoms and the duration of C-PTSD is longer, known as chronic trauma. It’s more likely to occur if the person experiences repeated trauma, such as domestic violence, neglect, sexual abuse, or any other trauma that seems inescapable.

This is why C-PTSD is stronger in people when the trauma occurs in childhood because children may be under the supervision of a parent or caregiver who is causing the trauma.

While the DSM-5 does not acknowledge C-PTSD as a complete mental disorder, it does agree that there are other symptoms that need to be recognized that may indicate a greater level of PTSD. However, it is included in the ICD-11.

Complex PTSD Symptoms

There are many symptoms of PTSD and not everyone will experience the same ones. Symptoms may appear a month or so after the event, but some could take longer. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Guilt
  • Sweating
  • Feeling sick
  • Distrust of others
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Anxiety or hyper-arousal

While some or all of these symptoms are present in C-PTSD, there are additional symptoms that point to C-PTSD. Here’s a list of possible symptoms you might find in someone with C-PTSD.

1. Preoccupied With Abuser

The relationship between the person and their abuser is a toxic one, and it’s likely to remain that way.

A person with C-PTSD may be preoccupied with their abuser. This could mean having a distorted image of them, allowing them to have dominance or control over you, or possibly plotting revenge.

2. Consciousness and Detachment

Trauma actually changes the brain in areas like the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. This can lead to a change in consciousness, meaning the person can actually forget the traumatic times.

It also includes feelings of detachment, in which you physically feel detached from your emotions. This type of detachment is called dissociation.

3. Difficulty Managing Emotions

The person may have difficulty managing their emotions. They may be prone to outbursts of anger, feelings of suicide, or extreme sadness. They may engage in self-destructive behaviors or isolate themselves from others.

4. Relationship Troubles

People with C-PTSD may find their relationships challenging, whether they’re in a new relationship or with family.

This is due to a lack of trust in people in general. The person may also search for someone to save them from their trauma or seek out a person similar to the abuser because they have no portrait of a healthy relationship.

5. Negative View of Self

Sadly, C-PTSD may result in a negative self-image. Because of the long-term trauma, those with C-PTSD do not view themselves in a positive, healthy light.

They likely have the same emotions similar to PTSD, but may have guilt, shame, feel helpless, or feel like they’re on a completely different planet than others. This makes it hard to connect with other people as well.

Remember, just as in PTSD, you may or may not have all of the symptoms associated with C-PTSD. It’s important to evaluate your symptoms and which ones appear and interfere with your life.

How is C-PTSD Diagnosed?

Because there’s no test for determining if someone has C-PTSD, it might be a little more difficult to pin down, especially since it’s newer to the mental-health world. However, your doctor can help you determine if there’s a diagnosis.

They may ask you to keep track of your symptoms and the severity of them. Then, the doctor may ask you about any traumatic events you’ve experienced and if you, or anyone in your family, have a history of mental health issues.

You may receive a diagnosis of PTSD, but if the trauma was chronic, they may diagnose you with C-PTSD.

Treatments and Management of C-PTSD

There are some treatments available for someone with C-PTSD, but it just depends on how severe the symptoms are and what symptoms are present.

A variety of medications are available to help control symptoms. Other therapies like cognitive processing therapy, holistic therapies, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing also may provide some relief.

Supporting Those With C-PTSD

C-PTSD is difficult to understand for those who’ve not experienced trauma. But it’s a serious condition that needs to be dealt with gently. They may seem like a different person or reject any good thing or thought you try to help them with.

Though it’s sad, this is a normal part of C-PTSD.

Support groups exist for those that suffer from C-PTSD. Encourage the person to get help or therapy, and learn as much as you can about C-PTSD.

C-PTSD: There is Hope

Knowing complex PTSD symptoms can be helpful in differentiating between PTSD and C-PTSD. Because it’s a serious condition finding help sooner rather than later may result in a better quality of life.

Is someone you love suffering from C-PTSD? Our team of experts can help. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

The Biological Effects of Trauma on the Brain

What exactly defines trauma? In essence, trauma is characterized by a life event that has left a lasting impression on your brain. But the difference is that this impression is not a positive one. It holds memories that are haunting, scarring and sometimes completely inescapable. 

When most people think of trauma they associate it with the likes of childhood abuse, physical abuse, assault, exposure to violence, and near-death experiences. While these experiences may result in traumatic impacts on the brain, trauma is not black and white. Outwardly, it does not look the same for everyone. But internally, the damage is done.

Learn more about the effects of trauma on the brain and understand how to come to terms with PTSD…

What Does Trauma Look Like?

The physical scars associated with traumatic events heal with time. But emotional wounds take far longer to heal, if ever.

The effects of trauma on the brain and your overall psyche have the power to stop your life dead in its tracks. The condition is widely known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can completely overtake every aspect of your life, changing the structure and overall function of the brain. 

PTSD is classified as a mental health condition and can develop after a recent traumatic event or after an event that took place decades ago. Generally, the trauma involves a sense of threat in terms of abuse, violence, pain, or near-death experience. 

PTSD is characterized by the recall of a traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares, and emotional instability. Depression, severe anxiety, anger, aggression, hyper-arousal, and distressing thoughts are also very common. 

brain biology and trauma treatment

The Anatomy of the Brain 

The human brain is comprised of three main areas: the brain stem, the limbic region, and the cortex. Each area of the brain is responsible for its own set of functions. Although, these three areas must work in unison to live out a normal day-to-day life with measured responses.

The brain stem is the first part of the brain that is developed in the womb, therefore it’s the ”oldest”. This region controls arousal and our automatic responses as humans, i.e. survival mode reactions.  

The limbic region evolves next and includes areas such as the amygdala and the hippocampus. It’s responsible for our expression, emotional reactions, decision-making and memory recall. 

Finally, the brain’s cortex develops last and is responsible for cognition and thinking. In essence, the cortex allows us to reflect, and concentrate.

So, how do these areas relate to traumatic events?

The Brain Stem and Amygdala 

Any perceived threat is registered in the most primitive parts of the brain – the brain stem. The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped structure found deep within the temporal lobe. It is triggered and our natural fight, flight or freeze reactions kick in. The amygdala also helps to activate the sympathetic nervous system which helps us deal with threats. 

The Hippocampus

After this, the hippocampus quickly processes information about the threat. With the support of the amygdala, memories associated with this traumatic event are then safely stored away. This is where memories are coded. Time and spatial contexts are added to memories and they are imprinted in our brains forever.

The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC)

The pre-frontal cortex is located in the frontal lobe of the brain, just behind the forehead. It helps us to consciously process a threat after our survival mode has been triggered by the amygdala. The cortex helps us to associate feelings and emotions with traumatic events and helps us plan how we will respond. The cortex also has the ability to ”switch off” our survival mode responses after we have assessed there is no threat. In a nutshell, the PFC helps us determine the meaning or significance of specific events.

trauma treatment program in san diego 

Understanding The Effects of Trauma on the Brain 

When your brain detects a threat, the amygdala sends a multitude of signals to different parts of the brain. This stimulates the release of hormones such as adrenaline, and other substances like norepinephrine and glucose. If the stressful situation continues, signals are sent to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. From here, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released into the body.  

Meanwhile, the pre-frontal cortex consciously assesses the situation, trying to deactivate the flight or fight response. In other words, it works overtime to try and keep you calm. 

But how do these responses work in the brains of those suffering from long-term PTSD? 

Studies have shown that people with PTSD have hyper-reactive amygdalas as well as an under-active pre-frontal cortex. In short, the amygdala reacts a little too strongly, and the PFC is hindered in its ability to keep you calm. 

1. Hyperarousal

With an overactive amygdala, your brain stimulates the release of excess norepinephrine. This can lead to hyper-arousal, hyper-vigilance, sleep disruption, insomnia, and constant edginess. Hyperarousal can be triggered by almost anything that resembles trauma or shock in those with PTSD.  

2. Anger and Impulsivity

An overactive amygdala means that those with PTSD are always on the alert. They are ”armed and ready” for quick action in the face of a perceived threat- even if there is none. This leads to impulsive behavior. In addition to this, your motor behavior is unregulated due to an underactive PFC. Ultimately, this leads to reactive anger which is difficult to control.  

3. Increased Fear and Negative Emotion

Most people suffering from PTSD will tell you that they are constantly hounded by negative thoughts and emotions. They may find it difficult to enjoy simple, day-to-day tasks or even feel regular emotions. This is a result of a hyperactive amygdala, which is over-communicating with the insula. This is an area of the brain responsible for emotional awareness. An underactive PFC also means you’re unable to regulate their emotions when needed.

San Diego Trauma and PTSD Treatment 

Treatments For Trauma

Some of the most successful treatments for those with PTSD include psychotherapies that focus on and enhance the capabilities of the pre-frontal cortex.

Mindfulness interventions or retreats hosted over a 10-12 week period are also known to decrease the hyperactivity of the amygdala. However, actively confronting your trauma is a long and slow process and takes a great amount of support and introspection. 

Ultimately, one of the best things a person can do is to find a mental health professional who can help them process and understand their trauma through therapy. 

Find the Help You Need with Solara Mental Health 

Now that you understand the effects of trauma on the brain a little better, allow Solara Mental Health to help you work through the trauma that is dictating your life. 

Based in San Diego, we offer well-versed health professionals who specialize in a range of disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychotic disorders and more. Get in touch today and reclaim your life… 

LGBT Suicide Rates Drop with the Legalization of Same Sex Marriage

Being a teenager is hard, but being a teenager who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer in some other form or fashion is a whole over level of difficult. Among teenagers, LGBT suicide rates are more than three times higher than among their straight peers. But the good news is we’ve seen a significant drop in those suicide rates in the last four to five years.

Since the legalization of same-sex marriage, LGBT suicide rates have dropped by more than half, and overall teenage suicide rates have dropped several percentage points. Read on to learn more about this connection and how we can continue to work to keep our teens safe.

Suicide Rates Among the LGBTQ Community

Teenagers are some of the people at most risk of committing suicide, and it’s not hard to see why. Your teenage years are a tumultuous time when you’re coping with hormonal changes, identity crises, and more. According to a study that ran from 1999 to 2015, an average of 8.6 percent of teenagers attempts suicide every year.

But among LGBTQ youth, that number skyrockets. That same study reported that 28.5 percent of teenagers who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual attempted suicide each year. But that study took place before the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in June 2015.

LGBT Suicide prevention in san diego

Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Prior to the landmark 2015 ruling, thirty-five states had already legalized gay marriage. And, in fact, the study we mentioned looked at 32 of those 35 states and compared them to the states where same-sex marriage wasn’t legalized until the national ruling. The states that legalized same-sex marriage before the national ruling saw drops in suicide rates beginning when they made the change.

The case that made the difference was Obergefell v. Hodges, which was decided on June 26, 2015. Prior to that ruling, according to a Gallup poll, only 38 percent of same-sex couples were married. As of 2017, that number had risen to 61 percent.

Drop in Suicide Rates

Along with a rise in the number of married same-sex couples, the June 2015 ruling brought changes in the LGBTQ suicide rates. According to some research, the suicide rates of all teenagers dropped about 7 percent following that ruling. And among LGBTQ teens, suicide rates dropped by about 14 percent – a decline of nearly half.

This drop is significant especially given that suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. And it is incontrovertibly tied to the legalization of same-sex marriage; for one thing, the drop in suicide rates continued for two years after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. For another, the states that did not legalize same-sex marriage before the national ruling saw no drop in their suicide rates before 2015.

Depression treatment in san diego

Reasons Behind this Drop

There are a number of reasons that the legalization of same-sex marriage has led to a drop in LGBTQ teen suicide rates. For one thing, it helps decrease the stigma of identifying as something other than straight. The more teenagers see married same-sex couples, the less likely they are to bully a classmate for being interested in someone of the same sex.

But for those teens who do still experience bullying, legal same-sex marriage offers them hope. The reason why people commit suicide is that they can’t see any hope for their future being better than their present. If a teenager is being bullied in high school, at least they can hope that someday, they might be able to have a marriage and a better life.

How Many Teens Identify As LGBTQ

According to the Associated Press, as of 2017, 26,252 students identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The study didn’t address transgender students, those who identify as asexual or genderqueer, or those who were questioning their sexuality. But based on that 26,252, let’s take a look at just how big an impact same-sex marriage had on our teenagers.

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, more than 7,481 students who identified as LGBTQ attempted suicide every year. After the ruling, that number dropped to 3,675 students a year, meaning more than 3,800 more LGBTQ students lived every year. And with the overall drop in suicide rates among teenagers after the ruling, researchers estimate that legal same-sex marriage may save more than 134,000 lives every single year.

Steps We Can Still Take

While the legalization of same-sex marriage was a crucial step, we still have more than 3,500 LGBTQ teens attempting suicide each year. One great way to help drop those numbers even further is to let any teenagers in your life know they have a safe space with you. Encourage them to support the LGBTQ people in their lives, too; just having someone in their court can make a literal life and death difference.

We also need to take steps to support trans students, especially trans women of color. Trans students should be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their identified gender, and teachers should use their correct gender pronouns in class. These small steps can go a long way towards validating these students’ identities and giving them hope.

San Diego Mental Health Treatment

How to Talk About Suicide

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, the most important step is to reach out and get help. If you are thinking about hurting or killing yourself, call the Trevor Project hotline at 1-866-488-7386. They provide suicide crisis counseling for LGBTQ people in a safe, judgment-free way.

If you are worried someone you know may be thinking of killing themselves, talk to them and let a trusted adult in their lives know you’re worried. Tell the person you’re worried, ask how they’re feeling, and let them know they aren’t alone and that they have your support. And if you believe they are in imminent danger, encourage them to call the Trevor Project hotline, or call 911 yourself.

Learn More About LGBT Suicide Rates

LGBT suicide rates have dropped exponentially since the legalization of same-sex marriage. Teens now feel less outcast and have hope for a better adulthood now that same-sex marriage is legal. And remember, if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, reach out and get help.

If you’re struggling with suicidality or issues dealing with your sexuality, reach out to us at Solar Mental Health. We have in-residence and intensive outpatient treatment programs to help you get the expert care to get back to full health. Contact us today and discover how we can help.

,

How To Heal Your Inner Child In Seven Steps

Today, self-care is more frequently discussed than ever before- and for good reason. Healthcare providers and therapists alike are sharing ways to reduce calm, alleviate anxiety, and make the present moment as peaceful as possible.

Yet, what do you do when your fears, trauma, and hurt run far deeper than the current events you’re experiencing? How can you initiate healing when it’s your inner child that’s screaming out for love, acceptance, and comfort?

Learning how to face the past without letting it control your present and future can be a challenging step to take, but it is possible. Today, we’re sharing seven ways you can combat the issue that cost you your innocence and start rebuilding the life you deserve.

1. Acknowledge Your Inner Child

Before you can start down the path toward restoration, you must acknowledge that your inner child exists. Though it might feel silly at first, talk to him or her if they were right beside you. 

Giving this person a real identity can help you work through the issues you faced together. Start by speaking statements of affirmation such as “I love you” and “I see you” in the mirror, or even visualize saying this to your younger, wounded self. 

You might find it easier to communicate these feelings to your past self through journaling. If this is the case, write letters to your inner child that cover the same sentiments. The goal is to give that child the feelings of validation and affirmation that were absent for so long. 

2. Validate What Happened

Pushing issues down or shoving them under the rug will only work for so long. If you’ve suffered abuse, neglect, or any form of trauma as a child, it’s necessary to be realistic about what happened.

With your inner child beside you, take the time to understand what happened fully. This might mean going over the events in detail, or it might mean revisiting a persistent feeling of shame or guilt. As such, it’s best to complete this step with a trained specialist who can offer coping techniques as you take that painful trip down memory lane.

Mental Health Treatment Center in San Diego

3. Identify The Form Of Neglect You Experienced

Even children who grew up in an idyllic environment can have wounds that originated decades ago. After you’ve identified a specific area of hurt, consider the bigger picture surrounding that event or series of events.

At the core of much trauma lies some form of neglect. This can range from a lack of love to a lack of protection, and anything in between. You might have wished you had more resources, more guidance, or more freedom. Allow yourself to feel that void again, and recognize it for what it is.

4. Embrace Your Emotions

Not all inner child work will bring up feelings of resentment or anger, though some might. For instance, you may feel remorse at your parents or furious at a friend or family member. Rather than trying to move past those emotions, go ahead and sit with them. 

This might mean experiencing rage, sadness, emptiness or embarrassment all over again. Talk to a therapist as these emotions travel up to the surface. Often, the only way to move past them and find true healing is to face them head-first. 

That said, be easy on yourself. You might not work through everything in one day or one visit, and that’s OK. Give yourself space and time to process the journey. Take breaks and seek support and guidance from trusted friends, counselors, and coaches.

Heal your inner child in San Diego

5. Identify Current Manifestations of Past Hurts

Do you find yourself engaging in self-sabotaging patterns that stem from past childhood hurts? For instance, if you felt abandoned when you were younger, you might now engage in toxic relationships with partners you know will abandon you down the road. 

Or, you might project emotions of distrust and suspicion on people who genuinely want to be in your life, afraid to let them get too close for fear that you’ll wind up alone again. Whatever the way these past hurts manifest themselves today, it’s important to be honest with yourself and identify them. Acknowledgment is the first step toward moving forward and making the shift toward healthier habits.

6. Take Steps to Fill the Gap

When you’re younger, you fall victim to your circumstances because you are unable to rise against them. As an adult, you can take proactive steps to provide for yourself the things you wish you’d had as a child. 

For instance, if you were in a cycle of poverty in your youth, you can take steps to improve your current financial outlook. Partner with an expert who can teach you how to budget, save for the future, and maximize your income. Or, if you felt neglected and invisible as a child, seek relationships with people who cherish their time with you and make time to keep those friendships alive.

In other words, give yourself what you wish your parents or guardians would have given you years ago and allow yourself to enjoy the freedom that comes with that reward.

Clinical Depression Treatment in San Diego

7. Mend the Hurt By Helping Others

Research shows that child abuse, neglect and mistreatment is a global issue, affecting millions of children each year. While you can’t go back in time and change your past, there are plenty of ways you can help change the future for someone who’s now in your shoes. 

From volunteering at a children’s home to serving meals at a homeless shelter, look for opportunities in your community where you can give back, especially if it means making a difference in the life of a young boy or girl. Even just lending a listening, empathetic ear to a friend or acquaintance in need can be your form of service. 

Understand that at first, these kinds of interactions might be triggering for you if they remind you of past abuse. However, over time, you should find that altruism and healing go hand-in-hand.

Heal and Release Your Inner Child

You’ve heard it before, but it’s time to believe it. Your past doesn’t define you.

However hurt your inner child might feel, there are resources available to help you address and work through that pain. 

If you’ve been abusing drugs or alcohol to help self-treat the pain, we’re here to show you a better way.

We’re an internationally accredited and licensed rehabilitation facility dedicated to providing expert medical and clinical care to our patients. Call now to speak to an addiction treatment specialist and let’s take this next step forward together.