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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Trauma and PTSD

07/20/2007

Question:

My son`s girlfriend of several years shared an experience from her middle school years that I`m concerned about. As a form of discipline, her parents had her taken from their home in the middle of the night and sent to a military school without any warning or discussion. She couldn`t talk to them for a month and while there and was subjected to intense emotional and possible physical abuse. As a result, she was allowed to come home after a few months because she became severely ill. She and her parents never talked about it again. She shared this information with me after an outburst of semi-violence with my son last month after they both had quite of bit to drink. She has just completed her nursing degree and celebrated passing her state boards last week. All seemed well until she told my son he was spending too much time with his friends and he just didn`t need to call her anymore. They were engaged at one point a few years ago, but after the first explosive conversation, realized they weren`t ready financially so decided to postpone any marriage plans. My son has had about all he can take and is ready to move on. I`m supportive of him, but I`m also concerned for this girl, she is very special to our family and I want the best for her, even if she doesn`t ever become part of our family. What`s the best way to help her overcome this past hurt. I don`t think she can forgive her parents and doesn`t understand how they could have done that to her so many years ago.

Answer:

The experience you describe could certainly could lead to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  PTSD is a serious disease that has become more in the news lately in the US because of its high prevalence among returning war veterans.

Any significant emotional or physical trauma can lead to PTSD.  In some, symptoms may show up relatively soon after the trauma, in others it may be years until symptoms show up.  Counseling and therapy, and often medications are important components of treatment.

Go to the links to the answer for some excellent resources on PTSD.  Good luck.

Related Resources:

National Center for PTSD
NIMH PTSD

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati