International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

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Articles that appear in the Trauma Blog are from StressPoints or web editorial contributions.

StressPoints is the award-winning online eNewsletter of ISTSS. StressPoints shares news and opinions about traumatic stress, highlights ISTSS and affiliate societies' activities and offers informational resources and feature articles of interest to the field. Access archived StressPoints articles prior to 2015.

The Thinking About Recovery Scale: A New Parent-Report Questionnaire to use after Children are Exposed to Traumatic Events

Posted 2 February 2018 in JOTS Highlights by Elizabeth J. Schilpzand, Rowena Conroy, Vicki Anderson, Eva Alisic

Parental responses are thought to be critical to children’s recovery from trauma. Parent and child PTSD often occur together (Morris, Gabert-Quillen, & Delahanty, 2012), parents appear to make important contributions to the treatment of child PTSD (Gutermann et al., 2016), and a range of parenting behaviors are associated with childhood PTSD (Williamson et al., 2017). Despite acknowledgement in the field that parents play an important role in children’s recovery from trauma, we currently have limited understanding about the processes by which parents could influence child outcomes. Improving our understanding of these mechanisms will help us better prevent and treat adverse outcomes for families after a child experiences a traumatic event. In our recent research, we have focused on the role of cognitions.
 

Mental Health Diagnoses among Women Experiencing Recent Intimate Partner Violence: Need for Integrated Care

Posted 2 February 2018 in JOTS Highlights by Melissa E. Dichter, PhD, MSW

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the term used to refer to violence and abuse in various forms (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial), perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner (including spouse or other romantic or sexual partner; World Health Organization, United Nations Development Programme & United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2014). In the United States, it is estimated that more than one in three women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking from an intimate partner in their lifetimes (Black et al., 2011); prevalence and incident rates vary by measurement tools and constructs measured. IPV is associated with numerous adverse outcomes, including physical injuries, chronic health conditions, trauma-related mental health symptoms, unhealthy substance use, housing instability, and suicidality.
 

Topiramate as Monotherapy or Adjunctive Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis 

Posted 2 February 2018 in JOTS Highlights by Archana Varma MD, Michael Moore MD

Topiramate, an anticonvulsant agent, has been studied as a primary and adjunctive treatment for PTSD, yet little is known regarding the efficacy of this treatment approach.  The neurochemical basis for PTSD is hypothesized to involve kindling of the limbic nuclei and increased susceptibility to arousal. Anticonvulsants have been investigated as potential augmentation or monotherapy strategies to treat PTSD due to their anxiolytic and anti- kindling effects.
 

Trauma and Diversity: Moving Towards an Understanding of Military Sexual Trauma Across the Gender Spectrum

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Ryan Holliday, PhD, and Lindsey L. Monteith, PhD

Military sexual trauma (MST) is defined as sexual harassment or sexual assault experienced by military personnel during their service (U.S. Government, 2014). Experiencing MST has been linked to a number of adverse consequences, including psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder), physical health conditions (e.g., liver disease, chronic pulmonary disease), as well as increased risk for suicidal ideation, attempts, and suicide (Kimerling, Gima, Smith, Street, & Frayne, 2007; Kimerling, Makin-Byrd, Louzon, Ignacio, & McCarthy, 2016; Monteith et al., 2016). 

 

Biological Perspectives: Attitudes of Mental Health Professionals toward PTSD & Substance Use Disorder Comorbidity: A Biological & Educational Perspective

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Jack C. Lennon

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) co-occur at a significantly high rate, with estimates of PTSD and alcohol use disorder comorbidity ranging between 36 percent and 52 percent (Mills, Teesson, Ross, & Peters, 2006). Within the literature exists strong evidence of fundamental neurological and neuropsychological correlates of this comorbidity, each condition subject to the physiodynamic synergism of their coexistence. Neuroanatomical structures such as the dorsal and rostral anterior cingulate cortices (ACC), as well as the amygdala, have been implicated as bases for the seemingly adaptive self-medication of hyperarousal and other trauma-related states (Loflin, Earleywine, & Bonn-Miller, 2017; Vujanovic, Bonn-Miller, & Petry, 2016). 

 

Student Perspectives: Developing Boundaries for Competence

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Chelsea M. Cogan, MA

At the time, I did not know how I would incorporate this advice into my life, but I knew the advice was important. A few short months later, I arrived at graduate school, eager to begin down my career path to being a clinical psychologist contributing to the field of traumatic stress. As with other students in a variety of programs, I quickly realized graduate school is a never-ending supply of opportunities to grow as a person, clinician, and researcher.

Student Perspectives: A Psychology Trainee’s Professional Transition: Learning about Different PTSD-Related Treatment Approaches

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Nicole A. Sciarrino, MA, MS

I pursued doctoral training with a goal to deepen my understanding in the conceptualization and treatment of trauma-related difficulties, and ultimate aim of becoming a well-rounded trauma psychologist. My graduate school experiences provided me with unique opportunities to develop my therapy skills in treating trauma-exposed individuals. However, it was not until beginning my internship training within a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital that I became aware of the extent to which I had only begun to scratch the surface in my knowledge about the treatment of trauma-related conditions. 

 

Trauma and World Literature: South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Howard Lipke, PhD

Ashley Shelby’s novel, South Pole Station, tells the story of an acclaimed young painter, Cooper, whose career had been on a downward spiral concomitant with the appearance of her brother’s schizophrenia symptoms which led to his suicide. As the novel begins, she is on a path to win an artist’s fellowship to the U.S. South Pole scientific facility. Shelby insightfully explores a variety of themes including the effects of severe mental illness on family, interpersonal interactions in a closed environment, the emotional nature of the politics of science, and the vicissitudes of intergenerational fealty and rivalry.
 
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