Friday, January 26, 2018

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Childhood

A young girl crying in a dark room.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
If you think you may have been molested, raped, or sexually exploited as a child, there’s a good chance that you were. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

But here’s the tricky part: adults who suffered sexual trauma in their childhood may not recall any specific instances of abuse. That’s because the brain has the ability to repress memories that are extremely stressful or unpleasant. Psychologists call this dissociative amnesia.

Here are common signs of sexual abuse in childhood.

1. Withdrawal

Along with repressing memories, victims of sexual abuse may dissociate from reality as a way to cope with their experiences. They may daydream, obsessively read, or partake in other activities that distract them from the pain of their every day life.

2. Risky behavior

Self-destructive habits are another tell-tale sign. Promiscuity, drug addiction, and/or alcoholism are common in people who have suffered from sexual abuse. 

3. Personal neglect

Sometimes, victims will intentionally make themselves physically unattractive as a means of protecting themselves against future abuse. This may come in the form of excessive weight gain, a lack of person hygiene, and/or wearing unflattering clothes.

4. Issues with intimacy

An inability to form emotional bonds with others is also a common sign. Because sexual abuse often leaves a person feeling objectified and dehumanized, they often have a hard time trusting others.

5. Nightmares

Although the victim may not remember the abuse, he or she may have nightmares about a friend, family member, or acquaintance displaying inappropriate behavior.

6. Depression

Unexplained bouts of sadness or a generalized feeling of discontent is also a major symptom. Trauma often leaves its imprint in the form of emotional and psychological disorders.

7. Anxiety

Living in a state of fear is a symptom that most all victims of sexual abuse report having. It’s understandable, given the pain they have been subjected to.

If you believe you have been sexually abused, help is out there. If you would like to speak to someone about your experiences or concerns, please call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Year, New Diet?

A piece of paper with four New Year's resolutions written on it: 1) eat better 2) lose weight 3) exercise 4) run marathon. There is a plate full of carrots and celery on top of the paper.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
It’s early January, and for those of you who have gym memberships, you know that means dealing with a lot more people. A new year spurs New Year’s resolutions, one of the most common of which is to lose weight. Part of that process obviously involves the gym… hence the million-and-one extra people every night getting their treadmill on.

But the other, perhaps more important, aspect of shedding the pounds is diet. Because, unfortunately, no amount of exercise can offset the amount of calories, sugar, and fat I can personally consume in doughnuts. Or cheesecake. Or cookies. Or… well, you get the point.

So what’s the best diet? That really depends on the individual. The key is establishing a lifestyle that is both healthy and sustainable. For me, that means generally eating lots of veggies, fruits, and lean meats while moderating my intake of things like sugar, dairy, and gluten. I don’t completely cut anything out of my diet; rather, I choose to savor those foods by eating them only occasionally.

One of the unexpected bonuses of eating more veggies and less sugar is that I actually eat more food. That’s because the foods I consume are often less calorie dense but more nutrient dense than things like chocolate doughnuts. For those of you who are calorie counters, you likely already know that consuming more vegetables, fruits, and lean meats allows you to eat a lot more food than when consuming sugary treats like soda and candy bars.
This year, U.S. News & World Report’s best ranking diets overall (as rated by food and health experts) include the Mediterranean Diet, the Dash Diet, and the Flexitarian Diet. The lowest ranking diets? The Keto Diet and the Dukan Diet, which were rated as too hard to follow and therefore unsustainable. The Weight Watchers diet scored the top slot for Best Commercial Diets and Best Weight-Loss Diets.

Women’s Health Magazine recently shared a fun video that shows what 1,200 calories looks like for three popular diets: paleo, Mediterranean, and vegan. Which one looks the most appealing to you?

Do you follow a particular diet? Or are you more of a diet sampler like me, simply keeping to an overall “healthy eating” lifestyle?