Kathleen A Erwin, MD

September 11th, 2016

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often the result of being exposed to a psychologically distressing event, one that typically extends beyond that of normal everyday experiences. It may be the tragic loss of someone; domestic violence or childhood abuse; a medical event or hospitalization; assault or combat; a natural disaster or even an act of terrorism.

When we experience a traumatic event, it is normal to respond with a range of emotions and symptoms. For each person, the reaction is unique and personal. When traumatized, it is common for some people to have a reactivation of a prior trauma based on the new event and not even be mindful of such a connection.

Today we remember the tragedy of 9/11, a day fifteen years ago that deeply affected many. Recurring images in the news brought on a collective sense of fear, grief, shock and helplessness. These emotions, by and large, lessen in severity over time, without severe long-term consequences. Only a small percentage of people with a history of trauma display impairment and symptoms that meet the criteria for trauma –related stress disorder.

Sign and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress include but are not limited to:

  • Nightmares and/or flashbacks
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Inability to sleep
  • Irritability
  • Hyper-vigilance – being extra jumpy

What to Do When Experiencing Symptoms:

  • If you are able, acknowledge the trigger. Is there something, past or present, which is contributing to the present symptoms?
  • If so, can you distance yourself from that which is triggering your response – perhaps limit your exposure to the news or the situation?
  • Take some time for yourself
  • Talk to someone – reach out to your support group
  • If symptoms are more than usual, last longer or are more intense, it is important to call a mental health professional.

To best care for the mental health needs in our community, Portneuf offers professional emergent, inpatient and outpatient care. Emergency care is offered 24 hours a day in our Emergency Department. In the case of a mental health emergency call 911. Inpatient care for adults requires admittance to the hospital.

If you or a loved one are in need of an outpatient medical health consult, contact your primary care provider or Portneuf Primary Care and Behavioral Health Clinic at 208-239-3815. In addition, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline provides crisis intervention, emotional support, problem solving, and referrals to local resources for persons at risk for suicide and for those concerned about them. You can reach the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.idahosuicideprevention.org

Dr. Kathleen Erwin is a board-certified psychiatrist. She graduated from the University Of California San Diego School Of Medicine and completed residency at University of California San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center. Kathleen, who has been here for nearly a year, is enjoying the many recreation opportunities in the region and is eagerly awaiting the coming ski season.