Dr. Kimberly Dennis Presents the Role of Trauma at Annual National Eating Disorders Association Conference

Timberline Knolls Medical Director Delves into Trauma's Physical Power, PTSD Similarities for NEDA

Oct 21, 2010, 15:32 ET from Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

CHICAGO, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2010 NEDA Conference, held in Brooklyn, NY earlier this month, used the theme of "Building Bridges to Recovery" to create dialogue among its attendees. To match this theme, Dr. Kimberly Dennis presented research on trauma's role in later psychological damage, in particular its evolution into PTSD. Dr. Dennis, the medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, one of the leading residential treatment centers for eating disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse, with or without trauma, a dual diagnosis or cooccurring disorders, provided important information for NEDA about the demographics of trauma, how trauma changes the brain structure and the victim's physical health, and the effective treatments available for PTSD which could help victims of sexual assault who display negative behaviors.

Dr. Dennis, whose previous research includes gender differences in the development of psychopathology and use of medication with family-based therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa, outlined how the brain's reaction to trauma (in particular sexual trauma) can result in the same post traumatic stress disorder that affects combat veterans. Important topics in the presentation included:

Trauma exposure directly affects how the brain develops, especially in adolescents and children. As a child grows, his or her brain slowly develops different functions such as the regulation of anxiety or the capacity for abstract thought. If trauma occurs prior to one function's development, then this part of the brain and all that follow may fail to develop in a healthy manner. Trauma in a mature brain can change it, but in children the brain's entire organization can fail.

Trauma exposure can create a variety of negative mental health outcomes. Depression and substance abuse can follow a traumatic event. Some can develop PTSD, particularly when a woman has been exposed to rape or other sexual assault. PTSD in women can result in psychological reactivity, exaggerated startle response, symptoms of avoidance and numbing, and mood disorder. In the military, sexual assault can give women and men PTSD even if not exposed to direct combat.

PTSD has been treated using trauma informed intervention. A comprehensive, integrated, trauma informed and consumer involved treatment was tested on those suffering symptoms of PTSD. The study noted that after treatment a statistically significant improvement occurred in women's trauma and mental health symptoms. Alcohol use significantly decreased and drug use trended in the same direction. The study concluded that outcomes for women with co-occurring disorders and a history of violence and trauma may improve with integrated treatment.

About Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Timberline Knolls is one of the leading residential treatment centers for eating disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse, with or without trauma, a dual diagnosis or cooccurring disorder. Expert treatment staff offers a nurturing environment of recovery for women and girls (ages 12 and older) on a wooded 43-acre campus in suburban Chicago. Women and families seeking Christian treatment have the option of working with a dedicated Christian therapist. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call us at 877.257.9611.

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