“Dealing with Delayed Onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, 6 Months Later, Proves More Challenging Than Acute or Chronic Symptoms”

[이데일리 이순용 기자] Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur when a person experiences unbearable pain or threatens safety, such as an earthquake, burn, or sexual assault. Even after the incident, frightening memories are not forgotten, nightmares are suffered, and symptoms of alternating between extremely sensitive and lethargic states persist for more than one month. It is known to occur in about 1 out of 10 people who experience a major accident.

Usually, after the event, it is not stable and the stress continues and develops into PTSD. However, it seemed calm immediately after the incident, but there is also ‘delayed PTSD’, in which symptoms appear after 6 months, so be careful.

PTSD is divided into acute, chronic, and delayed depending on the time of onset. If symptoms continue for 3 months after the incident, it is considered acute, and if it does not improve after that, it is considered chronic. Delayed symptoms seem fine immediately after the incident, but symptoms appear in earnest after 6 months. It may not occur alone, but may appear in combination, such as remission after acute remission, delayed onset, remission, and recurrence.

Symptoms of acute, chronic, and delayed PTSD are not significantly different. ▲Reexperiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations at the time of the accident ▲Extremely sensitive state due to reexperiencing ▲Avoidance of elements that may remind you of the accident to avoid reexperiencing ▲Continuation of negative moods such as depression and victim consciousness.

Lee Byeong-cheol, a professor of psychiatry at Hallym Daehan Kangseongsim Hospital, said, “However, any type of symptoms tends to be serious and prolonged, so it is necessary to detect and treat them early to minimize sequelae.”

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In the case of delayed PTSD, it is not easy to cope with acute or chronic PTSD because it is unknown when and how it will appear. If not detected early, daily life becomes difficult, such as constantly feeling the danger caused by the incident and falling into lethargy. Professor Lee Byeong-cheol advised, “Families and other people around you should pay constant attention.” “Even if the patient seems calm right after the incident, it is good to constantly observe the psychological and emotional state around him and check for PTSD symptoms.”

PTSD is known to increase the probability of developing PTSD if there is actually a lost part of the person’s body or a close person due to trauma such as a burn. Past experience is also important. The level of stress experienced, childhood pain, and experiences of other disasters or accidents in the past affect the onset and symptoms of PTSD.

It is also important to receive psychological emergency treatment at an early stage for prevention. It is to move to a safe space within 72 hours immediately after an incident such as a burn, get a sense of stability through counseling, and receive a psychological evaluation.

The treatment of delayed PTSD is similar to acute and chronic, but detailed customized treatment is required depending on the symptoms. Psychotherapy such as drug treatment, stabilization therapy, exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is usually performed. In the acute phase of severe symptoms, re-experiencing or extremely sensitive conditions are controlled with medication. When the person has stabilized to a certain extent and is able to deal with the memory of the accident, psychotherapy is needed to make the person who experienced the accident feel safe.

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