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PTSD and emotional eating in domestic violence and child abuse

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As Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness month comes to a close, efforts to educate and treat abuse victims, does not. Two important points to discuss include PTSD and Emotional Eating.

When you hear the term: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), think soldiers AND victims of abuse including domestic violence. The term Post Traumatic Stress is something we've all experienced at some time in our life. Add the word "disorder" and it now becomes something that needs treatment. According to The Department of Justice, most domestic violence is directed toward women...it often starts subtly and gets worse over time. The longer women and children stay in abusive situations the more chance of depression, doubting yourself, and eventually they may feel utterly paralyzed by fear. http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/

Recovery is a process and not something that happens overnight. A PTSD survivor can begin healing first by recognizing the problem and then working with a counselor and support group. Abuse affects everybody and close family members and friends can help more effectively if they educate themselves on the reactions (physical and emotional) of abuse. A caregiver should never judge or push but instead recognize that these symptoms are part of the grieving and healing process. http://www.ncadv.org

Complications from PTSD may include:

• being easily startled,

• feelings of hopelessness,

• social problems,

• becoming easily exhausted,

• having trouble concentrating,

• feelings of numbness and shock,

• extreme fear,

• sleep disorders,

• migraine headaches,

Emotional Eating

When we feel overly-stressed we tend to reach for familiarity or comfort from tangible substances like drugs, alcohol or food. We can find outside help for those things that are widely talked about like drug abuse, alcoholism, or eating disorders. But, rarely do we reach out for help with Emotional Eating. Partly because most, if not all of us, have had bouts of Emotional Eating here and there throughout our lives. Also, because we don't think it's anything to be concerned about or maybe there just isn't any help available.

If we let Emotional Eating get out of hand, it can have negative consequences on mind, body and spirit. From a "health" standpoint, Emotional Eating that is frequent can lead to nutritional deficiencies, obesity, and chronic depression. Many patients are too embarrassed to tell their doctor because they feel isolated like they're the only ones who eat to comfort their pain.

Awareness is a huge step in the right direction. First of all, it shows the person that they are not alone.Education and Support puts a little voice inside of us that stops the other little voice that says those harmful things like," you can't do it," or "It's not going to get better," etc.. Sometimes simply understanding that emotional eating is a result of emotional pain and is temporary can provide hope that this will not be a permanent condition. Basically, allow yourself to feel the pain knowing that there is hope and you will get stronger.

If you feel you're struggling with a more severe eating disorder visit this site:www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, also the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org

Don't forget to support your local abuse shelter. In Ann Arbor, that place is The Safe House: http://www.safehousecenter.org/. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to find out how you can help your local, abuse prevention center.

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