Addiction Neurocognitive Disorders Neurodegenerative Disorders Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

A General Introduction to Medication-Induced Movement Disorders

For every time we turn on the television, we often land on a commercial involving joyous people while promoting a certain medication and its side effects. In addition, we’re always notified about the side effects such as heart failure, seizures, or death that might potentially happen. As bothersome and even morbid as it may be to hear or think about, side effects like this can happen when you’re on prescribed medications. This is known as medication-induced movement disorders.

According to the DSM-5, the definition of medication-induced movement disorders is included because “the management by medication of mental disorders or other medical conditions and the differential diagnosis of mental disorders (e.g., anxiety disorder versus neuroleptic-induced akathisia; malignant catatonia versus neuroleptic malignant syndrome)” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013 p. 709) According to a study conducted by scholars Stephen R Duma, John Morris, and Victor SC Fung, one of the most common culprits that causes movement disorders is antipsychotics and antiemetics (Duma, Fung, & Morris, 2019). Therapeutic and illicit drugs can potentially cause neurological adverse effects and movement disorders. However, if there is early intervention, there is a probability that these effects can be reversed or prevented.

The DSM-5 has divided the definition of medication-induced movement disorders into multiple sections as it has a myriad of effects on an individual. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that the following disorders are not mental disorders, but instead are disorders that impact the individual physically.  The following disorders include medication-induced acute dystonia, medication-induced acute akathisia, tardive disorders including dyskinesia, dystonia, and akathisia. While there are a few notable differences in each movement disorder, generally symptoms include irritability, restlessness, excessive and sporadic movements, and the inability to sit or stand still (American Psychiatric Association, 2013 p. 711).

Acute drug-induced movement disorders are one of the common medication-induced movement disorders. It is described to “occur within minutes to days of drug ingestion. They include akathisia, tremor, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, serotonin syndrome, parkinsonism-hyperpyrexia disorder and acute dystonic reactions” (Duma, Fung, & Morris, 2019). According to the DSM-5, medication-induced acute dystonia causes “Abnormal and prolonged contraction of the muscles of the eyes (oculogyric crisis), head, neck (torticollis or retrocollis), limbs, or trunk developing within a few days of starting or raising the dosage of a medication (such as a neuroleptic) or after reducing the dosage of a medication used to treat extrapyramidal symptoms” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). 

Akathisia is actually a common yet an identifiably difficult medication-induced movement disorder that is the result of experiencing side effects from prescribed antipsychotic or antidepressant medication.When it comes to acute akathisia, an individual would display what the DSM-5 describes as “complaints of restlessness, often accompanied by observed excessive move­ments (e.g., fidgety movements of the legs, rocking from foot to foot, pacing, inability to sit or stand still), developing within a few weeks of starting or raising the dosage of a medi­cation (such as a neuroleptic) or after reducing the dosage of a medication used to treat ex­trapyramidal symptoms” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). 

Tardive dyskinesia disorder blocks the brain chemical known as dopamine and can cause visible side effects in your limbs. This includes involuntary thrusting, kicking, waving your arms, and tapping your foot. Studies have also shown that a person who is on antipsychotic medication is more likely to experience these symptoms if they are middle aged. The DSM-5 explains that tardive dystonia and akathisia disorders “are distinguished by their late emergence in the course of treatment and their potential persistence for months to years, even in the face of neuroleptic discontinu­ation or dosage reduction” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). 

Having perpetual tremors would seem exhausting and would get in the way of everyday tasks naturally. As far as treating any of the following disorders would go, it would involve withdrawal from the drugs and adjusting the dosage or being weaned off of it completely. However, there isn’t a specific treatment that exists for movement disorders that were a result from illicit drug use.



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Duma, S., & Fung, V. (2019, April). Drug-induced movement disorders. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders

Pain Through Passage: How Immigration Leads to Trauma

Starting a new chapter in your life can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Whether it’s preparing for college, entering the workforce, moving out of your parent’s house to live on your own, or moving to a completely different state or country, it is completely normal to feel multiple emotions all at once. Now, imagine traveling to a new country on your own where you don’t understand the native language and you’re separated from everything that is familiar to you.

Many immigrants migrate to America for various reasons. It can be due to their low socioeconomic environment, wanting to provide a better life for themselves or their family, educational purposes, or political conflicts. According to scholars Krista M. Perreira and India Ornelas, “Approximately 37 million immigrant adults and 3 million immigrant children (ages 0–17) live in the United States” (Perreira & Ornelas, 2013). 

Assistant professor at Michigan State University Farha Abbasi states, “In many respects, immigration is trauma. It is a complete loss of identity and familiarity, and immigrants are often left without the proper tools or resources to help them cope in a new environment. That transition in itself, even if it ends well, can leave deep scars” (Abbasi, 2020). Whatever stage of migrating to a new country, it has been reported that immigrants are at risk for experiencing traumatic events. According to the DSM-5, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as “the development of char­acteristic symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). 

Upon migrating to America, immigrants may have been faced with many obstacles. “Entry to the US without legal authorization can involve arduous journeys with exposure to extreme physical hardships as well as violence” (Perreira & Ornelas, 2014). This is especially prevalent in immigration detention centers and how ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) treats immigrants. 

The role that ICE plays in society involves preventing cross-border related crimes and enforcing legal immigration. While there may be good intentions to maintain law and order and preserve the safety of the citizens, this has negatively affected many families who come from immigrant backgrounds. Some families had their loved ones removed from their home by ICE without ever hearing from them again, not knowing where they are or if they’re even alive, which can be traumatizing. 

Children who come from immigrant families in particular can be emotionally traumatized by the separation of their parents, and depending on their age, they handle the disappearance of their parents differently. The psychological impact on separation affects younger children in a sense that they believe their parents simply “disappeared.” “The parents left behind struggled over whether and how to explain the disappearance, as well as how much hope to offer for a resolution” (Capps, 2007). 

Trauma affects people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, race and ethnicities differently. Seeking counseling as an immigrant can often be difficult, however. Thankfully, great strides are being made to accommodate immigrants’ mental well being with organizations such as Immigration Counseling Services (ICS).



Abbasi, F. (2020.). Immigration, Trauma, and the Power of Faith. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Publisher.

Capps, R. (2007). Paying the price: The impact of immigration raids on America’s children. Washington, D.C.: National Council of La Raza.

Perreira, K., & Ornelas, I. (2013, December). Painful Passages: Traumatic Experiences and Post-Traumatic Stress among Immigrant Latino Adolescents and their Primary Caregivers. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders

Psychological Reactions to COVID-19

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a rollercoaster of unpredictable events –– beloved celebrities passing away unexpectedly, riots and protests becoming increasingly violent, and the president’s questionable decisions impacting the United States. However, the most unpredictable of all that has affected people all over the world – mentally, physically, emotionally, and socioeconomically – is COVID-19. The pandemic has changed the way we live and function in which schooling and jobs were moved to virtual settings and potential milestones such as weddings, birthdays, and other gatherings, were missed.

Through scientific research and evidence, symptoms of the coronavirus have been confirmed to include the following: shortness of breath, fever or chills, fatigue, a painful chest, and congestion. Some individuals are asymptomatic, meaning they wouldn’t show symptoms even if they contracted the virus.  Furthermore, though some victims are fortunate enough to recover from the virus, the effects of COVID-19 are usually long term. In fact, the COVID-19 aftermath can potentially affect your mood, cause fatigue, and instigate organ damage to the heart, lungs, and brain, as well as blood clot issues.

 According to a study from the American Psychological Association, “Although large numbers of people throughout the world will show resilience to the profound loss, stress, and fear associated with COVID-19, the virus will likely exacerbate existing mental health disorders and contribute to the onset of new stress-related disorders for many” (Brown & Horesh, 2020).

The coronavirus has proven to be a traumatic experience for some individuals in different ways. It is possible to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the experience of COVID-19. The DSM-5 defined Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as “the development of char­acteristic symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Psychiatric Times says that “The coronavirus has already led to diverse mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other trauma and stress-related disorders” (Czapla & Tucker, 2020). Different groups have been traumatized by the events of the coronavirus. This includes people who have experienced COVID-19 and potential near death experiences, or individuals who had to witness a loved one go through COVID-19 due to the virus. Front line care responders such as healthcare workers and medical examiners may have been exposed to multiple patients suffering and dying from the coronavirus, which can be traumatizing as well. 

Furthermore, upon adding more stress to individuals, the coronavirus has also been emotionally traumatizing. Being socially isolated, experiencing economic hardship and unemployment, or working from home while caring for your children may all seem foreign and overwhelming. 

The comorbidity of having COVID-19 and PTSD at the same time isn’t common, but it does occur in patients. According to health officials, one of the ways to address COVID-19 if you have contracted the virus is to stay at home and recover, isolating yourself from family and friends so that you do not spread the virus to anyone else, avoid public areas at all costs, keep in touch with your doctor, and taking over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen to help you feel better.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Publisher

CDC. What to Do If You Are Sick. (2020). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from

Horesh, D., & Brown, A. D. (2020). Traumatic Stress in the Age of COVID-19: A Call to Close Critical Gaps and Adapt to New Realities. Retrieved from

Tucker, P., & Czapla, C. (2020). Post-COVID Stress Disorder: Another Emerging Consequence of the Global Pandemic. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders Uncategorized

The Battle Between Trauma and Social Justice

For several decades, even though there were good intentions, some peaceful protests turned into riots which resulted in traumatic experiences for many people, with some losing their lives in the process. Only days after George Floyd’s death, there was a global outcry demanding justice not only for George Floyd, but for all of Black lives that were lost from police brutality. While many people have been severely injured or died from partaking in protests which involved harsh forces executed from police officers, rubber bullets, or exposure to tear gas, many reports overlooked the violence on protestors and only focused on the looting.

For example, when a protestor is exposed to chemicals such as pepper spray, not only do they have little or no time to react, but the aftermath can be traumatic. The Physicians of Human Rights have stated, “The physical symptoms of chemical irritants often result in disorientation and agitation, which can lead to a state of fear, anxiety, and panic” (Sheppard, 2020). Clinical therapist Ashley Parks says, “A lot is happening very quickly, too quickly for our minds to be able to create a cohesive narrative, in addition to there being a real or perceived threat of serious injury” (Sheppard, 2020).

According to the DSM-5, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as “the development of char­acteristic symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Earlier this month, I was afforded the opportunity to speak with Stony Brook University senior Goka Lee Maeba, who serves as a social activist and vice president of the NAACP. She shared her intersectional experiences as an activist, international student, and woman of color who is attending a university known for having a predominantly white demographic. Maeba has done tremendous work on the Stony Brook campus by organizing a BLM rally with her organization. 

I was compelled enough to ask why she thought it was necessary to participate in a BLM rally, especially on the Stony Brook campus of all places. She responded by saying that, “Stony Brook has had different situations of being racist and tries to put themselves on a pedestal of diversity and inclusion which is, I guess, their ‘motto.’ But we see that it’s not right,” she stated. Maeba went on to say, “It was just important to use our voice and I know a lot of people like me couldn’t go protesting in the city because I’m not a citizen and it’s hard. Because I’ve seen people get their visas revoked because they’re protesting” (G. Maeba, 2020). Even though Maeba revealed it to be a scary moment in her life as an international student, she found ways to still contribute to the cause and used her voice to spread awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement on her campus, giving students a platform to allow their voices to be heard.

Black women’s exposure to witnessing the news about Breonna Taylor’s death can lead to anxiety and developing secondary trauma, which has been defined as “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another” (Peterson, 2018). It is possible that while some protestors may not have been directly affected by being subjected to physical abuse, witnessing fellow protesters get injured in advocating for social justice is enough to be traumatizing as well. I asked Maeba if she felt as though she was exposed to secondary trauma due to her involvement in protests and staying updated on social justice news. She responded by saying, “Yes. Because again, it’s easy to put yourself in that situation because it really could have been you,” she stated. Maeba went on to explain, “I feel like, that’s what a lot of us took away from that because Breonna was just a regular person in her house sleeping and she got killed and it’s just a reminder that people don’t care about us” (G. Maeba, 2020). 

Stress and anxiety is also known to contribute to trauma of all types. ZaDora Williams, a Black activist, operates a private counseling practice in Portland called the Sankofa Center for Healing. She is known for taking on patients who have participated in the Black Lives Matter Movement. She has mentioned that ever since the protest began in light of George Floyd, more of her clients are experiencing symptoms of hypervigilance, panic, and anxiety. (Pollard, 2020).  My final question to Maeba was if she had experienced any of these symptoms during her involvement in such vital organizations or at any point in her life as a woman of color, and if she did, how she coped with it. I also asked what her advice to other Black individuals who might be experiencing something similar be. 

“I feel like, when I do feel anxious, from all of what you’ve mentioned, would be anxiety because just thinking about going to a certain place or stepping outside or being surrounded by a certain group of people have made me feel anxious,” she admitted. “Especially as a woman stepping into certain places does make you feel anxious…I never really thought about that. I feel like there are moments where I would just sit down because my heart wouldn’t stop racing because there was so much going on―especially with what was happening with the protestors as I’ve mentioned before, it would sometimes be too much.” It hadn’t occurred to Maeba that current events pertaining to the endangerment of Black lives contributed to her anxiety until I had asked her that question. 

With police brutality becoming more frequent in the midst of the pandemic, I asked Maeba if she felt she was under any physiological and psychological stress. I also asked how she copes if she does suffer from any sort of stress as well. Maeba agreed that she does find herself being stressed and she is still learning to cope with it. She explained by saying “It’s easy to say ‘oh, it’s self care,’ but it takes a lot in order to put your mindset into that,” (G. Maeba, 2020). One of the things that does help her relax, however, is playing Among Us with friends and watching shows and movies on Netflix. 

In conclusion, so many young people are putting their lives on the line in order to ensure the lives of Black people are being spared. It is doable to actively participate in protests and rallies while maintaining social distance by also reaching out to professional therapists. Protesting that Black lives matter is important, but it is crucial to prioritize your mental well being since your life matters, too.



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Publisher.

Pollard, J. (2020, August 14). Psychological impacts of this moment are overwhelming, Black mental health care providers say. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from

Sheppard, S. (2020, June 17). Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets Take Their Toll on Mental Health. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders

The Invisibility of Black Women’s Pain and Secondary Trauma

In his 1962 speech “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself,” Malcolm X said, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Unfortunately, this statement still rings true decades later even after the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party, where efforts have been made to end the cycle of being treated as nothing more than subhuman. In response to Trayvon Martin’s death in 2013, three Black women formed a new generation of the Civil Rights Movement called the Black Lives Matter movement in response to police brutality, and seven years later, the social movement is expanding with more activists joining the fight. 

Recent current events have impacted people on a global scale enough to join the Black Lives Matter movement during a massive pandemic in an effort to advocate equality, eradicate systemic racism and police brutality against Black people, and finally end the ongoing cycle of oppression and systemic racism. Such events include the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Aura Rosser, and many other Black lives that were killed by the hands of police officers within the span of nine months this year. This kind of exposure can be strenuous and traumatic, whether it is on a first or second hand basis.

With television and newspapers becoming less common as first place news sources, social media has become a very powerful tool that serves as both a blessing and curse for this generation. Under huge platforms –– such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and many others –– there are countless videos of Black people being lynched by the hands of police for anybody to view. This kind of exposure alone can be traumatizing to anyone, which in turn can develop into something known as secondary trauma. 

Secondary trauma is defined as “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another” (Peterson, 2018). For every time a Black person encounters a video of another Black person being harassed or killed by a police officer, it can increase their paranoia about falling under the same fate of being lynched by law enforcement and becoming the next dead body that ends up “going viral.”

The fact that Breonna Taylor’s murderers still roam free with little to no consequence is not only a testament to how the system has little value for Black women. It is also one of the many examples of Black women being actively disrespected by the media, society, and in their own communities. These intersectional experiences can accumulate and Black women may begin to reflect on their own mortality and develop stress due to exposure to both direct and indirect traumatic experiences.

Northwestern University professor of psychiatry and licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler suggests that vicarious or secondary trauma can manifest into emotions such as anger and emotional fatigue. Zeigler went on to say, “That event of hearing that news and watching the circumstances unfold over the past several months can be experienced as traumatic to people in general, but particularly as Black women who might see themselves and relate to Breonna Taylor” (Holmes, 2020).

Furthermore, Black women’s intersectional experiences impact their mental wellness.  For centuries, they had to bear the burden of actively being silenced, dismissed, and negated; thrusted into cultural assimilation after being discouraged from wearing their natural hair; and labeled as nothing more than angry and irrational women for expressing themselves. This becomes intersectional experiences that are unique to Black women which can manifest into stress and trauma. According to a study conducted by several scholars, “African American women are at a greater risk for exposure to multiple traumatic events and are less likely to seek mental health services than White women” (Stevens-Watkins et al., 2014).  Black women do not seek mental health services for several reasons. Earlise C. Ward and other scholars used the Common Sense Model (CSM) to measure coping strategies, barriers to treatment seeking, and belief systems. One of the main factors that prevent Black women from seeking mental health counseling are “poor access to care, stigma, and lack of awareness of mental illness” (Ward et al. 2010). 

As demonstrated in the Black Lives Matter movement, Black women have also been known to be on the forefront of protecting and advocating Black men, but who is protecting Black women? How are we able to advocate for Black women’s mental health and understand their intersectionality? Attending protests and rallies and holding a banner that says Black Lives Matter simply isn’t enough. Actively listening to Black womens’ stories by attending rallies and joining organizations that pertain to activism and social issues can make people become more aware of various social issues.

Secondary trauma is just as impactful as direct trauma such as PTSD, ASD, and other stressor related disorders and should be taken as seriously as Black women’s struggles. Despite socioeconomic, cultural, and emotional barriers, there is an awareness growing for Black women’s mental health. There is more scholarly research being conducted to understand intersectionality, and establishments such as Therapy For Black Girls provide resources people can use. 

Even though great strides are being made to address systemic racism and Black mental health, we still have a lot to learn. Staying informed about current events is beneficial. However, there is coverage that can be deemed as harmful for somebody’s mental health. Some suggestions to cope with secondary trauma or exacerbating pre-existing secondary trauma is taking a break from social media or going for a jog, walk, or bike ride. If the weather isn’t looking too pleasant, you can seize the opportunity to meditate or catch up on reading. Recharging your mental wellness before delving back into these issues is acceptable, and you’ll be able to do more good with a balanced self.



Holmes, E. (2020, September 25). Breonna Taylor decision triggers trauma for Black community, other victims of police violence. Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

Peterson, S. (2018, October 22). Secondary Traumatic Stress. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

Stevens-Watkins, D., Sharma, S., Knighton, J., Oser, C., & Leukefeld, C. (2014, July). Examining Cultural Correlates of Active Coping Among African American Female Trauma Survivors. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

Ward, E., Clark, L., & Heidrich, S. (2009, November). African American Women’s beliefs, coping behaviors, and barriers to seeking mental health services. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

X, M., & Haley, A. (1965). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Grove Press.

Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders

The Miseducation of Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders

First kisses, graduations, awards for well-deserved accomplishments. All of these events have something in common ⎯ they’re life’s memories. Usually, when we go down those brief trips on memory lane, we remember them with fondness and feel warm. At a certain point in our lives, we do experience a feeling that’s less pleasant. For example, when we mourn the loss of a loved one, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or even a pet, we are bound to experience a moment of sadness when we think about them. However, with the support of friends and family, you learn to cope. Some people, however, endure events so painful and severe to the point that it becomes difficult to complete everyday tasks–even ones that seem simple such as going outside and getting errands done. This is what we would call trauma. 

Trauma is defined as the reaction to an event that distresses the individual and prevents their ability to respond or function normally to certain situations. When someone experiences trauma, they will usually experience a wide range of symptoms and emotions. Everybody copes with trauma in different ways — some internalize their feelings, while others exemplify them through emotions such as sadness, anger, or denial. In addition, every day tasks may become a chore or just difficult to do. This includes, but is not limited to, feeling a sense of hopelessness, developing depression, nightmares, insomnia, and difficulty in maintaining a relationship with your friends, family, or significant other. If the individual does not cope with their trauma or seek out professional counseling, it can consequently manifest into unhealthy habits –– substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) and alienation, for example. 

Director of Research and Education Karen Onderko introduces the different levels of traumas which are broken down to two categories: large T traumas and small t traumas. Large T traumas are described as impactful experiences that contribute to long stressors. An example of a T trauma would be enduring a painful experience such as being sexually assaulted, experiencing child abuse, being part of an abusive relationship, or natural disasters. 

Small t traumas are known as “circumstances where one’s bodily safety or life is not threatened, but cause symptoms of trauma nonetheless” (Onderko, 2020). In other words, while you are not harmed in a physical manner, contrary to large T traumas, small t traumas deal with the turmoil your mental health undergoes in everyday situations. This includes events such as a severe breakup, a divorce, getting separated from a loved one, financial struggles, work stress, and even stress that pertains to school. 

When people think of trauma, they are quick to associate it with an event that has impacted an individual physically and develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Although PTSD is the most common mental illness in the trauma and stressor related disorders group, not every individual develops it. Other traumatic and stressor related disorders include the likes of acute stress disorder (also known as ASD). Acute stress disorder is caused by traumatic stress and can last at least up to three days. ASD is the exposure to unfortunate events such as death, sexual abuse and severe injury, and it can be directed towards others or even from your own personal experience. 

Granted there are more trauma and stressor related disorders, PTSD and ASD are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, people experience what we call unique traumatic events on the basis of their race and ethnicity. For example, a Black person’s negative experience with a police officer will most likely differ from a white person’s experience with a police officer due to the underlying intergenerational trauma. 

Even though there isn’t a cure for people who’ve experienced trauma, there are many treatments; specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling, that provides opportunities for the people to help integrate their emotional response to trauma and focus on any resulting mental health conditions. Even though trauma isn’t just limited to physical impact and can also damage somebody emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, there is always room for healing and growth.



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Onderko, K. (2020, April 22). What Is Trauma? – Definition, Symptoms, Responses, Types & Therapy. Retrieved from