Yesterday I met a friend for coffee, although we didn’t know each other well.
We met to discuss our strokes–hers hemorrhagic and mine a brain stem stroke. Both of our strokes struck suddenly last year.
By the time we left the coffee shop after a 90 minute conversation, we knew one another extremely well.
And that’s what many medical events are: life-threatening. And more often than we think, medical trauma and procedures can result in PTSD.
That means that each year, nearly 300,000 stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack) survivors develop PTSD as a result of the terrifying onset of their health scare.
I know. I experienced it as a blood vessel bled into my brain stem and produced numbness, tingling, and other symptoms.
So did my friend Ginger, when a blood vessel in her brain violently hemorrhaged.
According to the article, “PTSD is not just a disorder of combat veterans and sexual assault survivors, but strongly affects survivors of stroke and other potentially traumatic acute cardiovascular events as well,” said Ian M. Kronish, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine (Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health) and the study’s senior author. “Surviving a life-threatening health scare can have a debilitating psychological impact, and health care providers should make it a priority to screen for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD among these patient populations.”
Several months after my stroke and brain surgery, I consulted with my general practitioner about adding an anti-depressant to my medications. Why?
My doctor agreed that I could benefit from an anti-depressant, and he was right. My symptoms have greatly improved.
Dr. Kronish went on to state: “PTSD and other psychological disorders in stroke and TIA patients appear to be an under-recognized and under-treated problem.”
1. Seek out PTSD treatment if symptoms don’t abate.
2. Help raise awareness among physicians and the general population. (Feel free to use this blog or the link information.)
3. Ask family members for support and understanding.
4. Build a social support system. Seek out community resources.
According to Dr. Edmondson, “The next step is further research to assess whether mental health treatment can reduce stroke- and TIA-induced PTSD symptoms and help these patients regain a feeling of normalcy and calm as soon as possible after their health scare.”
Do you know someone who’s suffered a stroke? Are they showing signs of PTSD: anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, obsessive-compulsive behavior, avoidance, depression, or other symptoms? If so, encourage them to see a mental health professional.