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Mental Health

Helping Someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

06/01/2007

Question:

As a mom, I am feeling quite helpless today and googled "how to help someone get mental health help" Thank you for the information. It helped me... now I need to figure out how to use it to help my son. My son had a mental breakdown Aug 06. He was 27 and came to us at the time for help, with the urging of his girlfriend( a nursing student)He was obviously tormented, had not been sleeping or eating, and paranoid. He was afraid to go back to a job where he was well liked and was doing very well. We got him into his MD who had seen him several times after a fatal accident he witnessed and narrowly missed being involved in. We had urged him, as had the MD to get counseling. We also got him in for an emergency evaluation. The counselor didn`t feel he needed hospitalization but recommended counseling. He said he wanted to give the medicine time to work.

To make a long story short, he is still not employed. He is doing piecemeal work for my father 2-3 days a week. He is not trying to get a job. He blames the breakdown on the men he was working with at the job where he worked at the time at the breakdown. It is obvious this breakdown has caused a major disruption in his life. He has been steadily employed since he was 18 years old, bought his own house at 21, and has always been responsible. Alcohol and drugs have never been a problem. He was a low maintenance kid as he grew up.

We are paying for his Effexor, prescribed by the MD, but I know he needs more help. He is very stubborn and resistant to counseling. He seems quite himself in all ways, except his obsession with disliking the people at the job where he had the breakdown and his avoidance of getting a job. Our family believes somehow this is related to watching his friend be killed by the falling crane when he had the job with the construction company. He admits to having depression shortly after the accident, but of course, didnt have time for any counseling. We had been warned about PTSD but had no idea.

If you have any suggestions for what our family can do (without bugging him to death) to encourage him to get help, please let me know. I am wondering if showing him this article would help him at all. I know you can`t do much with what I have just shared but any suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer:

Your concern is sound and your dilemma is common among parents. The best approach is to do all you can to learn about the various ways of treating depression and PTSD, and then try to share your curiosity and knowledge with him in any way he will participate in. A good book for this is Getting Your Life Back, by Jesse Wright and Monica Basco. Its major point is that there are many ways to treat depression. Each person must choose the best fit. Depression support groups for families of depressed people can also guide you in this dilemma.

If traditional counseling does not appeal to him, he may consider exercise, omega 3 supplements, or light therapy, all of which have proven to relieve depression in sound scientific studies. He may consider a pastoral counselor, or an educational counselor, or a vocational rehabilitation counselor.

For more information:

Go to the Mental Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lawson  Wulsin, MD Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati