Complex PTSD: How a New Diagnosis Differs From Standard PTSD

Woman on stand with grey background

Your palms sweat. Your heart races. You don’t remember where you are — are you here, now, or back in another, scarier time?

This is a flashback. And for many people living with PTSD, it’s a common experience. Faced with a reminder of a traumatic event, someone with PTSD can be jerked back into the mental, emotional and even physical experience of trauma.

But what happens when that trauma is ongoing, or a prolonged series of events? This is where a Complex PTSD diagnosis bridges an important behavioral health gap.

Continue reading Complex PTSD: How a New Diagnosis Differs From Standard PTSD

Don’t Get Along with Your Parents? A Therapist’s Tips for How to Manage

Young woman and man drinking coffee in cabin

There is a time in many healthy families where a child grows into adult and their relationship with their parents transforms into a more friendly, equal, relaxed relationship. However, this doesn’t happen for everyone. There are certain people who need to come to terms with the fact that their parents will never be able to be their friends, or to interact with them in a friendly, casual way. Some reasons for this include:

  • Differences in values, e.g. different religions or political views, which preclude one or both parties from being able to get along as friends.
  • Parents who have personality disorders and are mean to their children; this includes parents with narcissism or Borderline Personality Disorder.
  • Children who have experienced emotional, verbal, or physical abuse by their parent have severed or severely reduced contact.
  • Parents who dislike a child’s partner enough to not want to see the child/couple or who make comments that are hard to ignore.
  • Parents who come from a culture or ethnicity where it is not acceptable for children and parents to ever interact in a more casual, peer-like way.

Continue reading Don’t Get Along with Your Parents? A Therapist’s Tips for How to Manage

Is It a Normal Fight or Verbal Abuse? Here’s How to Tell

Young woman gazing downward in a field

Even the most dynamic of duos has the occasional fight. Whether it begins with “Who forgot to take the dog out?” or “Do I really have to go to your brother’s birthday party?”, having arguments is a common — and healthy — part of any relationship.

But in some cases, what we call an “argument” is actually something worse. Ever had a partner who criticizes everything you do? Who shouts and uses cruel language when they get angry (and they may fly off the handle a lot)? Who makes you feel like you’re wrong or “too sensitive” when you try to speak up?

Continue reading Is It a Normal Fight or Verbal Abuse? Here’s How to Tell

Raised by Anxious Parents? Here’s How it Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health

Mother and son strolling on green path in spring

In my practice, I see many clients who grew up in very anxious families. Parents may have suffered from generalized anxiety, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often, these parents were never formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and it’s only after the fact, during adulthood, that clients are able to recognize and understand how anxious their parents were — and how it has affected their mental health, both during childhood and into adulthood.

Continue reading Raised by Anxious Parents? Here’s How it Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health

Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?

mother and father arguing sad daughter with teddy bear

I’ve had severe panic attacks on and off since I was 16 years old. Although I may never be able to pinpoint their exact cause, I’ve long suspected that some of the traumas I experienced as a child (divorce, abandonment, custody battles, and verbal abuse) contributed to my panic disorder.

Recently, though, my therapist mentioned something in passing that illuminated the whole phenomenon for me in an entirely different way. She said that when we hold our emotions inside, they tend to kind of morph into conditions like anxiety and panic.

A lightbulb went off in my brain then: I could picture myself, a young girl, witnessing and experiencing all sort of things that I now know were most certainly traumatic, and basically just standing there absorbing them all. I was always the “good girl,” whom everyone thought was so resilient despite all the difficult things that were unfolding. Continue reading Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?

How Can Single Moms Heal After Domestic Violence?

mother with son drawing

Getting out of an abusive relationship is one of the most difficult obstacles single moms can face. Summoning the courage and tenacity to walk away when they have no clue what the future will hold takes gall and serious faith.

Fortunately, there is hope on the other side. Leaving an abusive relationship is only the beginning. Here are five ways to begin the journey of healing to help you not only survive, but thrive.

1.Talk to Someone

Get professional help. Sharing your story is one of the most crucial ways to heal productively after surviving relationship violence. Although the hurt and shame of it may continue to feel like a dark cloud over your head, one way to lessen the pain is to regain control and own your own story.

Sharing with close friends and family members is a start, but going to a licensed professional is much better. A psychotherapist trained in relationship trauma is prepared to offer a safe space as well as an objective disposition. His or her job is to guide people through pain while they are on the road to becoming their whole, healed selves. It is powerful to work with someone whose primary duty is to listen and help dissect the truth. Communicating with a person capable of supporting you in the journey of healing while sharing tools of empowerment can make a world of difference. Continue reading How Can Single Moms Heal After Domestic Violence?

How Therapy Helps You Recover from Childhood Trauma and Abuse

woman client therapist talking

If you experienced trauma or abuse during childhood, you might wonder if you should seek therapy. But maybe you are too busy to commute to appointments. You don’t even have any time to feel everything, much less talk about it.

Then there are the plethora of worries people sometimes have when they consider working with a therapist. You might think, “What if I end up feeling worse? What if the therapist thinks I don’t have any problems? Am I exaggerating my experiences?”

Then you start wondering why everyone else seems so happy, while your head swims with worries and you slog through each day. You are not alone, and there are ways to feel better. Continue reading How Therapy Helps You Recover from Childhood Trauma and Abuse

How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

Houston landscape shot

Our hearts are heavy with sadness for all those affected by the unthinkable damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. At Talkspace we strongly believe in solidarity and kindness as keys to a healthy community and society. This guiding principle is why we have joined the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by sharing our resources in any way possible.

In addition to a donation to a local food bank, we are offering a free, therapist-led support group on Facebook for those affected by this disaster. We hope this group will provide a safe space to grieve losses and process complex and overwhelming emotions. This step can help begin the healing process and let people know they are not alone.

When a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey ravages the land, thousands of people lose their homes. News organizations send hundreds of photos and videos that show the extent of the destruction. Reporters and citizens document every flooded street, toppled building or crowded shelter.

But there is another type of damage that is more difficult to see and quantify: the impact on mental health. Victims of natural disasters often experience trauma and grief that plagues them long after they have found a new home. The stress of fighting for survival can make people more vulnerable to developing mental health conditions, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. Continue reading How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

Recognizing Trauma vs. PTSD: A Quick Primer on Symptoms

traumatic stress vs. PTSD image

Imagine you have just had a car accident on the way home from work. Would you consider this a traumatic experience? What about if you left a country with oppressive government to find asylum in a safer country? Would you consider that traumatic?

There are different kinds of trauma you may experience. In the past, trauma meant experiencing events such as torture or abuse. But mental health professionals have come to see trauma as being more varied. How will you know if you or someone you love is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic stress? Clarification begins first with the definition of trauma.

The International Society for Trauma Stress Studies defines trauma as a set of mild to severe reactions to, “shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity.” Continue reading Recognizing Trauma vs. PTSD: A Quick Primer on Symptoms

Understanding the Lingering Impact of Trauma on Relationships

Why do some people become addicted?

“Someone who has experienced trauma also has gifts to offer all of us – in their depth, their knowledge of our universal vulnerability, and their experience of the power of compassion.”  – Sharon Salzberg, author and teacher.

– by Jor-El Caraballo, LMHC / Talkspace Therapist 

Understanding the Lingering Impact of Trauma on Relationships

It’s 7:10 PM and you’re anxiously waiting at the restaurant your partner has picked out for your weekly date night. You usually run a little late because you try on three different outfits before you leave, but tonight you arrived early for your 7 PM dinner reservation and have been waiting at the restaurant since 6:50 PM.

You want to show your partner that you’re committed to working on your punctuality. The server has stopped by several times to take your order, and you’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable as you wait for your partner.

Continue reading Understanding the Lingering Impact of Trauma on Relationships