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Delayed Onset PTSD

answered 06:57 AM EST, Mon April 29, 2013
anonymous anonymous
How likely is it to get PTSD more than a year after a very traumatic experience, a fire, where a loved one died right beside you from smoke inhalation? I thought I was fine but now I have all of the symptoms of PTSD and I am really confused about why I am going through this now instead of back then or at the funeral.

Rebecca Ashton Says...

Firstly, I'm so sorry to hear about what you have been through.

While uncommon, is possible to get delayed onset PTSD. It makes up about a quarter of diagnosed cases. One theory is that symptoms of PTSD may already be present, but not enough to meet the PTSD criteria. Later on, further life changes or traumatic events may exacerbate the existing symptoms which appears to be delayed onset PTSD.

It is also possible that the trauma may have caused your unconscious mind to repress events, feelings and emotions, or you may have consciously suppressed them-these are normal defence mechanisms, however, these defence mechanisms will not make the memories disappear completely, it is likely that you will still be influenced by them.

You say that you thought you were fine, which makes me wonder whether you worked through your feelings around this at the time? It is understandable that if you felt like you were managing, then you may not have seen the need to do so. If not, it might be that the reason for this sudden intrusion is that your unconscious mind is signalling that you are ready to explore things now.

I wish you the best of luck, please contact me if you have any further questions.

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Page last updated Jul 04, 2013

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