The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), describes trauma as “an event, or series of events, that causes moderate to severe stress reactions…[that are] characterized by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.” Dissociation is a psychological phenomenon that, according to the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, “describes a state in which the integrated functioning of a person’s identity, including consciousness, memory, and awareness of surroundings, is disrupted or eliminated.” Dissociation is specifically influenced by the disruption of four key areas (identity, memory, consciousness, and awareness of oneself and surroundings) of personal functioning that typically operate automatically and seamlessly. Medical News Today asserts that “the exact cause of dissociation is unclear, but it often affects people who have experienced a life-threatening or traumatic event, such as extreme violence, war, a kidnapping, or childhood abuse.” Dissociation is an overload response that serves as an ineffective coping mechanism. The general symptoms of dissociation, according to a study published in Access Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, include changes in bodily senses and a reduced ability to react emotionally. The symptoms of dissociation can range from mild to severe, and last varied durations.
Self-harm, synonymous with self-injury, is a term used to refer to the non-suicidal act of deliberately and compulsively harming one’s own body. There are different ways an individual could inflict self-harm, such as breaking bones, hitting or punching, burning (with matches, cigarettes, hot objects, etc.), head banging, carving symbols into skin, piercing, picking at a wound that interferes with healing, biting, pulling out hair, and cutting. The most frequent sites of self-injury are the hands, wrists, stomach and thighs, though self-injurers may hurt themselves anywhere on the body. It is also not uncommon for people that engage in self-harming behaviors to do so in a location on their body that is not expressly visible to others. Self-injury in the context of trauma and dissociation occurs because of maladapted coping mechanisms. According to the Mayo Clinic, for example, teenagers that cut themselves use “this type of self-injury as a harmful way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger, and frustration.” Self-harming behaviors are often used by young people as a tool for emotional regulation.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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