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Post traumatic stress syndrome
Jan 7, 1998

I keep hearing this term Post traumatic stress syndrome and I was wondering what the symptoms are. i think I have it.

I mean I am quite numb. I've lost lots of people. And now lately someone told me that they had cancer. I mean I wasn't surprised even though they are young. And another friend is on a respirator in the hospital with AIDS. And it all feels so inevitable. I can hardly manage to say nice sympathetic things. I say it's terrible but I feel it's normal. What do you expect, I think. I kind of can't believe how people can imagine that terrible things will NOT happen. Anyway do you think that this is what they mean by post traumatic stress syndrome? And will it go away someday?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Post traumatic Stress Syndrome refers to a condition where an individual has flashbacks to an earlier traumatic event and is emotionally incapacitated. You sound like you are experiencing a combination of bereavement overload from having too many people in your life become ill and die and also that you are suffering from depression. If you are not in psychotherapy I would strongly urge you to have a consultation with a mental health professional who can help you evaluate your symptoms and work with you on developing a treatment plan that may or may not include psychotropic medications. Yes, this condition can get better, but not if left untreated. So please seek out a licensed professional who can be of assistance to you. You can get referrals to therapists from either your doctor, minister, rabbi or friends who are themselves in psychotherapy. There is no reason for you to have to continue suffering in the way that you describe.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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