Medical Specialty >> Psychiatry

Doctors Lounge - Psychiatry Answers

Back to Psychiatry Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: New and Old Memory*

 Sistar89 - Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:49 pm

My sister, Alexia is 18 years old. I just turned 20.
Our parents were killed in a tragic car accident 9 years ago. A drunk driver came from the left side and hit our car on the side. Shortly after our car caught on fire. Both parents were killed imediatly, but my sister and I survieved both.

Recently Alexia had a car accident, excatly like the one we had with our parents. She was hit from the left side and her car caught on fire (no one was with her).
She only broke her leg and dislocated something in her back.
And she keeps asking her self why she didnt die this time around? why nothing worse happened... She has been to see a doctor, and he said she is suffering from PTSD. I have been staying with her since her accident. And she is recovering really well.

However, and this is the part that scares me. Sometimes I wake up in the night hearing her screaming and crying. But when I wake her up, she is acting like my 9 year old sister who just lost her parents, saying she needs to get to the car to save them. As if it was 9 years ago... Its really scaring me, because untill I can calm her down she is acting like the 9 year old. Begging me to get our parents (which I can't do)

Her doctor says its normal, and says it will go away with time. But please HELP me.. I need to find a way to help her, because its so difficult seeing my 18 year old sister acting like this. Even her boyfriend can't take it at times..


The Sistar*
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:46 pm

Hello, Sistar89,

It appears that your sister's recent accident has brought on a return to experiencing and grieving the first accident when you both lost so much of your family. At age 9, she very likely did not get to really grieve or express her terror, because so many people say "try to forget" and "look forward." Even if she did grieve at age 9, she obviously is doing it again - and she needs to, or it wouldn't be happening. The doctor is correct in that she is experiencing PTSD. She would benefit from "talk therapy" - with a therapist and/or with you. If she can talk about it while she's awake, she can begin to let go of it in her nightmares. A mild anti-anxiety medication might help, but the key word is "mild." Too much just buries it, and it will come out at another time. How are you handling your own emotions about the first accident? You both may benefit from talking about it. The time for recovery may be shortened by talking about it and recognizing terrors. She may also feel guilty because she survived and your parents didn't. That's a heavy load to carry without some intervention.

Good luck to you both.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us