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Suffering from PTSD and depression. How long before improvement is seen?

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Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 88 Questions
Dear Dr. I'm Gary, Denise's husband. I'm writing on Denise's behalf. A year ago on 9 Aug 2012, XXXXXXX (a psych RN) was attacked by a patient at her work place. After the attack, she went to the in-house clinic and received a prescription that we believe caused her to have a perforated ulcer (she's a former gastric bypass patient, 2003). She has been assaulted by that same patient before but this time was worse and as a result, she has been suffering from PTSD. If a patient is experiencing really bad nightmares, can't handle any pressure, gets mad at least little annoyance, what is the typical time to see an improvement in the condition? She is currently seeing a psychologist and will see a psychiatrist later this month. What are some things to watch for while caring for her?
Posted Tue, 27 Aug 2013 in Eating Disorders
Answered by Dr. Simmi Kumari 17 hours later

I think your wife is suffering from PTSD with Depression. Though to make a confirmatory diagnosis of associated depression we need more information, but the amount of history provided gives clue to the diagnosis. She remains irritable all the time and her inability to handle pressure points towards the presence of depression.

As she has a combination of problems so she will need supportive as well as cognitive therapy by the psychologist. Depending on the severity of depression she may also need pharmacological treatment after detailed assessment by the psychiatrist.

As far as your concern about duration, it depends upon many factors. Severity of symptoms, mode of treatment used by psychologist and psychiatrist, patient motivation in therapy and finally clinical skills of treating physician. If all goes well patient starts responding in 2-4 weeks but there is no fixed time line. Depending upon all the variables it may even take long and some patient even do not have complete recovery. This is not to make you feel disheartened but to make you strong in facing the situation and help her in recovery.

For your second concern about what you can do to help her in her recovery, then answer is that you have to be non judgmental in your attitude while dealing her, completely supportive, encouraging self efficacy, and thinking that all of her irritability is due to illness and not directed to you. If you will think from that perspective you will be treating as a patient instead of reacting to her anger and it will prevent a vicious cycle of anger, reaction and increased anger and deterioration of symptoms.

Last advice, do not delay in treating it as increased duration between onset of symptoms and treatment leads to a delayed response in treatment.

In case you have any more query , you can contact again. I hope I have clarified the doubts you had.
Dr Simmi
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