Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

Stress Illness and Surprises

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In presenting my lecture last month in four US states and two European countries, one story always got a big reaction.  A woman of about 60 years of age had unexplained chest pains (requiring narcotics) for nearly two years that were linked to finding a letter from her emotionally abusive mother.  She found the letter in the family Bible just after her mother’s funeral.  Among other things the letter had a list of “10 Reasons Why I Hate You.”  The woman’s chest pains faded rapidly after we uncovered this connection and she wrote her mother an emotional and cathartic reply.


Post-Traumatic Stress (4)

Friday, July 9th, 2010

…continued from previous post.

There are so many lessons from the story of Patrolman Evans.  I think about the many individuals who are first on the scene at traumatic events who have suffered in this way.  Only recently has there been some official recognition of these burdens and some change in workplace cultures that previously neglected the need for support and treatment.


Post-Traumatic Stress (3)

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

…continued from previous post.

Many years later, Homer Evans had this to say: “Still today the vision of that little boy haunts me. During my time in law enforcement I saw a lot of people die but that one incident made such a lasting impression on me. For years I had bad dreams recalling that little boy. I would wake from the dreams sobbing and in a cold sweat. I had mood swings that made it difficult for my wife and me. I tried for years to suppress the event in my work with the public, which meant the only place it could come out was at home. I thank God she stuck with me during those years.  In those days there was no counseling available. You dealt with your problems.  There would have been a stigma if anyone found out you were having issues.”


Post-Traumatic Stress (2)

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

…continued from the previous post.

Evans arrived just after two other officers.  As they approached the duplex, Violet burst out of the front door, holding her son.  She screamed “take him” as she thrust the boy into Evans’ arms and then said “I shot the little bastard.”


Post-Traumatic Stress (1)

Monday, July 5th, 2010

When people learn what I do, it is not unusual for them to share a story from their past or present.  Patrolman Homer Evans (not his real name) agreed to share the story below in the hope that it might benefit others.


Stress and Disease of Body Organs (2)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Continuing on the theme of stress and disease of body organs,  a recent study*  of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from Hamburg, Germany  begins by citing research by others that war veterans with  PTSD have been shown to have more  illness of the heart, lungs, nerves and digestive system  than war veterans without PTSD.


Stress Illness Brochure (5)

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Concluding with Part 5 of the Stress Illness brochure:

IV. Stress From A Traumatic Experience


Linking Stresses and Symptoms (3)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

It  comes as a surprise to many, that mental health conditions like Depression, the Anxiety disorders or Post-Traumatic Stress may manifest themselves predominantly as a physical illness.  As a result, people suffering from these conditions may have no idea what is causing their symptoms.  Many people with Depression, for example, don’t feel particularly depressed.  So what are the clues that point us toward these diagnoses?  I usually ask the following questions: (more…)

The Stress History

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Negative life events that persist for more than a short time sometimes can cause physical symptoms.  We can divide the wide range of issues that can do this into five major categories, which simplifies the diagnostic process considerably.  In evaluating medically unexplained symptoms, I inquire into each category in a process called taking the Stress History.  I do this after having acquired a clear chronology of the patient’s illness.  I know when and where symptoms began and their pattern over time.  This often enables me to find links between symptoms and stresses.  For example, I often ask if anything stressful occurred just prior to the onset of the illness.  When I find these connections in timing, it increases the likelihood that the stress is responsible for the symptom.