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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Does this possibly have symptoms for delayed onset PTSD?

 xamybellx - Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:12 am

Okay, well, I'll try to explain this the best I can, with the little information
that I have. I know the rules are to keep it as short as possible, and I'm sorry if it gets really long..

My friend is a very logical person. He thinks everything through, to the point
that he never feels any negative emotions because he doesn't focus on anything
but what's going on right now, and he can block those emotions, no matter how
intense they may be. As long as I've known him, he's never felt any sadness or
depression, or even fear, because he's always had the mental compacity to block
it all. I don't know how he can do it though, because with his past, anyone
normal would be in a mental hospital. I don't know much about it, but I know his
dad left when he was very young and messed up his entire life. I know he went to
five different elementary schools alone, and at one point his mom, his sister,
and him were living on the streets. I don't know much else, because he does all
he can to block those memories, and he hardly ever talks about him. I also know,
that they finally settled down and he "made the mistake of thinking they were
here for good," is how he worded it, and this school year they moved again, and
I know it's been really hard for him, and he's really angry a lot.
Also lately, (the real problem here, but I felt I needed to explain a bit of his
story). He's been telling me about this feeling he's been having in his chest,
he said it physically hurts, and it's making him lose concentration and focus,
which is completely unheard of from him. I think, all of his emotions from his
past are finally coming back and he's really starting to feel something. And if
he were, he wouldn't recongnize it as being sad or depressed, because he doesn't
understand what it feels like. I've read a lot about people with a delayed onset
of PTSD, and i was thinking some of his symptoms may fit that, and it's the only
thing I can think of. If you don't think it may be that, then what do you think
it may be? If it's not a medical condition of some sort, what are some ways to
get him to realize that normal people feel emotions, and that's what's going on?
I'm just really worried about him and I wanna help him.

Thanks so very much for reading this really long post.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:29 pm

Hi xamybellx,

What a distressing situation for your friend! He's fortunate to have a caring friend.

What you describe could be related to PTSD, but due to the chronic nature and the way the symptoms developed, it would be good to rule out both depression and anxiety disorders first. They can occur at the same time. The chest pain and pressure, if not due to a physical cause, are known to happen in anxiety disorders and with depression. They can also occur in what is known as panic attacks. The loss of focus and concentration, along with his tendency to block his past experiences, suggest a depressive element. The actual diagnosis can be made after a detailed discussion with him, which means seeing a physician or mental health professional.

Since he has shared with you what has happened in the past and what is happening with the pain and pressure in his chest, it appears that he's willing to discuss it with you and may be reaching out for help. When a person has physical symptoms due to emotional stresses, they are feeling emotions, but have internalized them. Usually this is because it feels safer than to express strong emotions, such as rage. There is no easy answer to how to help him recognize his emotions. The only way to start is to share with him what you have shared in this forum, and urge him to talk with a school counselor, trusted teacher, his parents or other relative, and to see his doctor. Relieving distress through talking can be very helpful, and his doctor can talk with him as well as providing any medication assistance that might be indicated. Without treatment, it's likely that his symptoms will continue and may worsen.

Good luck to both of you. I hope everything works out for your friend.

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