Tag Archives: symptoms

FOCUS ON: Rape – Reactions to Rape

The following excerpt has been taken from “The Road to Recovery: You & Rape” – created and distributed by the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. You can download the complete booklet in English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa, from their website: rapecrisis.org.za

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Each person copes with trauma in a different way, depending on her or his circumstances. How long your journey to recovery takes will depend on many things, including your situation and how supportive the people around you are. If you are worried that negative feelings are lasting too long or becoming overwhelming, you might consider getting help. It’s important to remember that there are people who can help you, such as a rape counsellor, social worker, psychologist, clinic sister or even a family member or a friend you can trust.

Partners, parents or friends and family members may not know how to respond to you, and may even share some of your feelings about the rape. They can also choose to go for counselling so that they can learn to understand their own feelings and how to offer you more support.

On the other hand, people around you might need to distance themselves from what happened to you because, although it could happen to them too, they don’t want to believed that. Some people might not be supportive, because they themselves live with men who rape, or because It has happened to them and they don’t want you to remind them of their own painful experiences. The truth is that not everyone around you will be supportive, and you may feel alone in dealing with some things. However, you don’t have to be alone on your journey along the road to recovery – there are signposts that can help you on your way.

Phases of Recovery

The first signpost along the road to recovery is realising that there is a pattern to how most people progress or move through the trauma of rape. However these phases don’t follow on neatly from one to another; you may move backwards and forwards through the phases as you work through the trauma.

There is no single way to recover; your journey is unique. With good support, people can recover from rape, but many people choose not to get support and not to tell anyone about what happened. The following phases can also be seen in people who do not go for counselling:

Acute Phase

Immediately after the rape, most survivors feel shock, dismay, fear, panic and anger. Some survivors show this by being numb or dazed, others by being openly upset. You would probably react this way in the first few hours, days and weeks after the rape, but usually not longer than two weeks afterwards. This is the first phase of the crisis. It is called the acute phase because it is so intense. Many survivors are unable to talk about the rape. You might have nightmares and feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed and afraid of being touched. These feelings can be overwhelming.

Outward Adjustment Phase

In this phase, most survivors try to carry on with their lives as normal. To anyone looking at you from the outside, you may seem to be coping. You might even feel this way yourself. You need to go through this phase to reassure yourself that you can cope. During this phase, you test your ability to survive the experience. You may use all kinds of different ways of coping, such as pretending the rape didn’t happen or pushing thoughts and feelings away.

In this phase, rape survivors are usually not open to coming for counselling. You tend to feel a lot less troubled than during the acute phase, but you may not want to speak about the rape very much. This can be difficult for those close to you who wish to be helpful and think they can do that by getting you to talk. They may feel frustrated if you don’t want to talk or they may put pressure on you to behave differently. You might find that during this phase what you really need is for people to let you be.

Integration Phase

During the integration phase, the part of you that felt overwhelmed by intense emotions during the acute phase and the part of you that felt almost nothing during the outward adjustment phase come together. The intense feelings start to come back, but less overwhelming than before. You may begin to feel depressed or anxious and start thinking about the rape when you least expect to. This is the time when you might wish to talk a bit more about what happened. You might start having nightmares again and feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed and afraid of being touched or of being alone. You may well find that you cannot function the way you used to. You may also start to think about the rapist more.

Many survivors in this phase believe their feelings mean they have serious emotional problems or are going mad. This is a good time to go for counselling because it can give you support and comfort, with respect for what you are going through. You can also get information about what you are going through in the form of psycho-education. Psycho-education helps you and people close to you understand and deal with the feelings you have. Also, your counsellor will help you find your own strengths, resources and coping skills, so that you learn to be a part of your own recovery and contribute to your health and wellness on a long-term basis. The better the knowledge you have about what you’re going through, the better you can live with it and share it.

Renewal Phase

You begin to make sense of the trauma and to feel safer in the world. During this phase your symptoms will ease off or disappear. The memory of the rape will not have the same effect on you. You may start to feel good about life again. You may still feel emotional at times, but overall you will feel more in control and able to move forward.

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Common Feelings or Reactions to Rape

During the first two phases, many people report feeling or experiencing:

  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Powerlessness and a loss of control
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • An inability to speak about the rape
  • Nightmares
  • A fear of touching
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Grief about loss
  • The desire to use drugs and alcohol
  • The desire to hurt themselves, for example by cutting themselves
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

For information on common feelings and reactions to rape please visit the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust website at: http://rapecrisis.org.za/ – alternatively download “The Road to Recovery: You & Rape” booklet from http://rapecrisis.org.za/rape-in-south-africa/you-rape-booklet/


Reference:

Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. (2011). Reactions to Rape. In The Road to Recovery: You and Rape (pp. 41 – 51). [Online available from: http://rapecrisis.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/you-and-rape-booklet-english.pdf [Accessed: 21 July 2015].


Need Help?

Please refer to the Need Help? page on the menu bar, select either Student Support Referral List OR Student Counselling for more information on where to access help. 

Alcohol Abuse & Dependence: Signs & Symptoms

It is estimated that South Africans drink in excess of 5 billion litres of alcohol per annum; this equates to 9 – 10 litres of alcohol per person. 

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Alcohol use among the youth of South Africa is rife and increases with age for both males and females. The reasons for alcohol use and abuse range from a desire to fit in, peer pressure, boredom, poor home environment, the relative cheapness of alcohol, as well as it’s ease of access.

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcohol Dependence

A distinction is made between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence (or alcoholism). Alcohol abusers are thought to have some semblance of control over their alcohol intake and as such are able to set limits for themselves; this does not, however, mean that their drinking cannot or will not progress to more dangerous or dependent habits.

Alcohol dependence or alcoholism can develop gradually over time as a person’s alcohol tolerance increases. The risk of developing alcoholism is greater for those who partake in binge (a period of excessive or uncontrolled indulgence) drinking or who consume alcohol on a daily basis. Alternatively, alcohol dependence can develop relatively suddenly due to a genetic predisposition or family history of alcoholism, or stressful life events.

Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse 

Alcohol abuse refers to drinking habits that impact negatively on a person’s personal, interpersonal and work/school relationships and environments.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Drinking as a stress reliever – For many the use of alcohol to de-stress is the beginning of a downward spiral; the reason for this being that alcohol is a sedative, meaning that over time a person needs to consume more of it in order for it to have the same effect it initially had. 
  • Repeated neglect of responsibilities – Either because of drinking or the effects of drinking (i.e. suffering from a hang over) responsibilities at home, school or work are neglected e.g. poor work performance, poor or failing grades, absenteeism etc.
  • Alcohol use and poor judgement – Alcohol use impairs a person’s judgement and physical responses resulting in poor and dangerous decision making such as drinking and driving, drinking and having sex, mixing alcohol with medication, drinking in unsafe areas or neighbourhoods.
  • Drinking despite relationship problems – Continuing to drink despite the fact that your alcohol consumption is resulting in relationship problems at home, with friends and at work / school.
  • Legal problems due to drinking – Drinking patterns resulting in repeated legal problems such as: getting arrested for drunken driving, getting involved in drunken fights, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly conduct. 

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 Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

In addition to the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, alcoholism includes three additional aspects: tolerance, physical dependence and withdrawal.

  • Tolerance – refers to the need for increased amounts of alcohol in order for it to have the same effect. Signs of increased tolerance include: consuming more alcohol than other people without show signs of intoxication; drinking more than you used to.
  • Lack of control – drinking more than you intended and / or for longer than you intended despite telling yourself or others that you wouldn’t.
  • Inability to stop – you have the desire to cut down or stop drinking alcohol but all efforts either to stop or to stay sober fail.
  • Pre-occupation with drinking – you spend increasing less time doing things that used to interest you as a result of your drinking; you spend an increasing amount of time drinking, thinking about drinking or recovering from the effects of drinking. 
  • Withdrawal – you experience withdrawal symptoms as the alcohol wears off and you sober up, e.g. shakiness, anxiety, sweating, trembling, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, irritability, depression, loss of appetite and headaches. Drinking in order to relieve or avoid these symptoms is a sign of alcohol dependence.


References:

Ideo. (2009). Laboratory Posters for Eli Lilly and Company: Inspiring scientists to be more patient-sensitive. Retrieved from: http://www.ideo.com/work/laboratory-posters [Accessed on: 22 April 2015].

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2015). Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved from: https://ncadd.org/learn-about-alcohol/signs-and-symptoms [Accessed on: 22 April 2015].

NYC Department of Healthy and Mental Hygiene. (2011). New Health Department Subway Poster Campaign Illustrates Dangers of Excessive Drinking. Retrieved from: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2011/pr032-11.shtml  [Accessed on: 22 April 2015].

Seggie, J. (2012). Alcohol and South Africa’s Youth. South African Medical Journal, 102(7), 587

FOCUS ON: ADD / ADHD – An Introduction

ADD/ADHD is not a problem confined to childhood. Many adults who were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as children find that certain of the symptoms have followed them into adulthood. Whereas for some a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is only made in adulthood.

The purpose of this month’s FOCUS ON topic is to provide you with information regarding adult ADD/ADHD: signs & symptoms in adults, the effects of adult ADD/ADHD and ways of helping yourself or someone you may know who has ADD/ADHD.

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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD – is a developmental and behavioural disorder that is characterised by levels of inattention, distractibility, hyeractivity and impulsivity. Typically symptoms are inappropriate for a person’s age or developmental level and cause problems in everyday life.

ADD – is a label with the same meaning as ADHD. At one time, ADD referred to a disorder involving difficulty paying attention or focusing attention without hyperactivity. 

Source: Bhandari, S. (2014). Glossary of ADHD Terms. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-glossary

Myths about ADD/ADHD in Adults

Myth: ADD/ADHD is a simple problem of being hyperactive or not listening when someone is talking to you.

Fact: ADD/ADHD is a complex disorder that involves impairments in focus, organisation, motivation, emotional modulation, memory, and other functions of the brain’s management system.

Myth: ADD/ADHD is just a lack of willpower. Persons with ADD/ADHD focus well on things that interest them; they could focus on any task if they really wanted to.

Fact:  ADD/ADHD looks very much like a willpower problem, but it isn’t. It’s essentially a chemical problem in the management system of the brain.

Myth: Brains of persons with ADD/ADHD are over-active and need medication to calm down.

Fact: Under activity of the brain’s management networks is typical of persons with ADD/ADHD. Effective medications increase alertness and improve communication in the brain’s management system.

Myth: Those who have ADD/ADHD as children usually outgrow it as they enter their teens.

Fact: Often ADD/ADHD impairments are not very noticeable until the teen years, when more self-management is required in school and elsewhere. Also, ADD/ADHD may be subtle, but more disabling during adolescence and adulthood than in childhood.

Myth: Unless you have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as a child, you can’t have it as an adult.

Fact: Many adults have struggled all their lives with unrecognised ADD/ADHD impairments. They haven’t received help because they assumed that their chronic difficulties, like depression or anxiety, were caused by other impairments that did not respond to the usual treatments.

Myth: ADD/ADHD does not really cause much damage to a person’s life.

Fact: Untreated or inadequately treated ADD/ADHD often severely impairs learning, family life, education, work life, social interactions, and driving safely. Most of those with ADD/ADHD who receive adequate treatment, however, function quite well.


Reference:

Brown, T.E. (2005). 10 Myths and Facts about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD). Retrieved from: http://www.drthomasebrown.com/pdfs/myths_and_facts.pdf [Accessed on: 25 February 2015]


Common Signs & Symptoms of Adult ADD/ADHD

ADD/ADHD in adults presents quite differently than it does in children. Furthermore, because each person is unique different people will experience different symptoms and symptom clusters. The following categories are some of the most common signs & symptoms of adult ADD/ADHD:

Inattention & Concentration Difficulties

Adults with ADD/ADHD often have difficulty with staying focused and following through with mundane, daily tasks. Symptoms in this category are sometimes overlooked because they are not as outwardly disruptive as other symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Symptoms of inattention & concentration difficulties include:

  • “zoning out” without realising it.
  • extreme distractibility – inability to stay on track due to wandering attention
  • difficulty paying attention or focusing – for example when reading or listening to others
  • struggling to complete tasks – even simple ones
  • tendency to overlook details, resulting in errors or incomplete work
  • poor listening skills – includes difficulty in remembering conversations and following instructions

Hyper-focus

It is common knowledge that people with ADD/ADHD find it difficult to maintain their focus on tasks which they find uninteresting. However, what many don’t know is that people with ADD/ADHD also have a tendency to become over-absorbed in tasks that they find stimulating and interesting i.e. they become hyper-focused.

Hyper-focus is a type of coping mechanism for people with ADD/ADHD, it’s a way of tuning out distractions. On the positive side hyper-focus is useful when channelled into productive activities; however, on the negative side a hyper-focussed person tends to become so engrossed with what they are doing that they can lose track of time and neglect other things that they are meant to be seeing to, which could lead to problems at work and with relationships.

Disorganisation & Forgetfulness

Adults with ADD/ADHD often struggle with maintaining order in both their work and personal lives; this includes prioritising what needs to be done, time management and keeping track of tasks and responsibilities.

Symptoms of disorganisation and forgetfulness include:

  • poor organisation skills
  • tendency to procrastinate
  • trouble with starting and finishing projects
  • chronic lateness
  • frequently forgetting appointments, deadlines and commitments
  • constantly misplacing or losing things
  • underestimating the amount of time required to complete a project or task

Impulsivity

If you have impulse problems you may find that you struggle with: being patient; controlling your behaviour, comments and responses; acting or reacting without thinking the consequences through first; rushing to complete tasks without reading the instructions; interrupting others.

Symptoms of poor impulse control include:

  • frequently interrupting others or talking over them
  • poor self-control
  • blurting out thoughts that are rude or inappropriate without thinking
  • addictive tendencies
  • act recklessly or spontaneously, without regard for the consequences
  • having trouble with behaving in socially appropriate ways e.g. sitting still through a lecture period

Emotional Difficulties

Many adults with ADD/ADHD find it difficult to control their emotions, particularly those around anger and frustration.

Emotional symptoms include:

  • sense of underachievement
  • inability to deal with frustration and frustrating situations
  • easily flustered and stressed out
  • irritability and mood swings
  • trouble staying motivated
  • hypersensitivity to criticism
  • short, at times explosive, temper
  • low self-esteem

Hyperactivity & Restlessness

Hyperactivity is probably the best known symptom of ADD/ADHD but is only experienced by a small percentage of adult ADD/ADHD sufferers. The symptoms of hyperactivity often become more subtle and internal as the ADD/ADHD child matures into adulthood.

Symptoms of adult hyperactivity include:

  • feelings of restlessness and agitation
  • tendency to take risks
  • getting bored easily
  • racing thoughts
  • constant fidgeting, trouble sitting still
  • craving excitement
  • multi-tasking without getting anything done

In Part 2 of Focus On: ADD/ADHD we will be looking at the Positive & Negative Effects of Adult ADD/ADHD

 

*The information contained in this post is for informative purposes only and is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 


Reference:

Segal, R. & Smith, M. (2014). Adult ADD/ADHD: Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm [Accessed on: 25 February 2015].

Marijuana: Dependence and Addiction

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Physical Dependence vs. Addiction:

Physical dependence refers to when a drug user’s body normalizes / gets used to the presence of the drug; thus the user only “functions normally” when the drug is used and present in the body. Physical dependence is common with the chronic / prolonged use of marijuana. Withdrawal symptoms (physical symptoms when the dosage of a drug is seriously lowered or abruptly interrupted) can be experienced by those who are physically dependent on marijuana.

Addiction refers to behaviours which meet the criteria for substance dependence as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  The addict’s mind does not accept abstinence (non-use) from the drug of choice and consciously forces the user to get more of the drug or even to increase the usage and amount of the drug so as to intensify the effect. Addictive behaviour is characterised by a pre-occupation, compulsive need to use a drug. Addiction is psychological in nature whereas physical dependence is a condition which can be overcome following a period of withdrawal.

Physical Dependence and Addiction to Marijuana:

Clinical evidence shows that marijuana withdrawal symptoms manifest following a period of dependency and that marijuana users qualify for diagnostic criteria of addiction.

Many find it hard to equate marijuana with addiction especially with its increasing use as a medicinal and recreational drug. However, the following is a list of the most common physical signs of marijuana dependence and addiction:

  • aggression
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • craving
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • raise in temperature
  • restlessness
  • sweating

Exposure to marijuana has physical, biological, mental, behavioural and social consequences. The decision whether or not to use marijuana will always be a personal one. 

Please refer to the Policies page of this blog for BMH’s Student Policy on the Possession, Use and Distribution of Illicit Substances (including marijuana).


Adapted from: 

Physical Addiction to Marijuana – Addictionblog.org and Dependence on Marijuana – Addictionblog.org