Important Medical Tests for the Survivor Today

The long term effects of childhood sexual abuse can take a toll on the Survivor both emotionally as well as physically.  Many Survivors mistakenly believe that because they are no longer being abused then they are therefore out of harm’s way. This is not the case and believing so can have dire consequences. Research reveals that the long term effects of abuse can lead to depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, low self-esteem and even suicide. Negative health behaviors and counterproductive coping skills link poor health outcomes to adult Survivors of child sexual abuse; however, a healthy and diverse social support system can not only mediate these effects but drastically improve the Survivor’s quality of life. Here are five essential medical tests each Survivor today should have:

Blood pressure

Hypertension is considered to be a silent killer because many people don’t know they have the condition as there are often no symptoms. In fact, many don’t realize they have high blood pressure until they have a heart attack or stroke. Have a health care provider check your blood pressure and if it is abnormal then they will more than likely ask you to come in at a later date to check it again. Treatment for the condition can include prescription medication and a change in diet and increase in exercise. Anyone can have hypertension – including children and teenagers – it is not a condition exclusive to the elderly.

HIV and other STDs

This is a mandatory test for every Survivor for a few major reasons. First, if you have the condition and don’t know it, you can spread it to several other people without meaning to do so. Second, the virus if left untreated can cause illness that could otherwise be controlled with medication. It is very common to be fearful of taking the test and of having a positive result. In fact, fear is what keeps most people from knowing their status. But fear and not knowing your status will not make a positive result negative. There are many people that go on to live a blessed life after being diagnosed with the virus. HIV is no longer the death sentence that it was once known to be. Research and medication have helped to advance the treatment of the condition.

Dental Check Up

Research confirms that adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse are often extremely uncomfortable with receiving dental care. The consequences of poor dental care can lead to gum disease and even cardiac disease. To improve your dental visit, consider talking to the dental care team about your concerns beforehand.  To learn more about dental anxiety read an interview with Dr. Carmen Santos at http://www.dentalfear.com/santos.asp.

Depression

Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness. It is characterized by intense feelings of sadness that last for weeks or longer and interfere with daily activities. Symptoms of depression include  sleeping too much or too little, self-hate, thoughts of suicide or death, lack of energy and irritability.  Prescription drugs are not always the appropriate treatment for those with depression although only your doctor will be able to determine this. Some people are able to feel better with therapy with a qualified mental health professional like a psychologist or social worker. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol will not help feelings of sadness it actually makes them worse. Alcohol is a depressant and should not be used as a way to cope with depression.

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