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Exploring the psychological trauma facing some caregivers

Can caregivers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after a loved one has passed? That's the focus of a piece over on the New Old Age blog, where writer Judith Graham discusses how psychological trauma may be a common problem for those caring for people with difficult illnesses and deaths.

While feelings of depression, stress and anxiety are all very real for these caregivers, there is some debate over whether or not what they're experiencing can be classified as PTSD. From the entry:

Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, a professor of psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine who treats many caregivers, said there was little evidence that caregiving on its own caused post-traumatic stress. But if someone is vulnerable for another reason — perhaps a tragedy experienced earlier in life — this kind of response might be activated.

“When something happens that the individual perceives and reacts to as a tremendous stressor, that can intensify and bring back to the forefront of consciousness memories that were traumatic,” Dr. Gallagher-Thompson said. “It’s more an exacerbation of an already existing vulnerability.”

Previously: Relieving stress, anxiety and PTSD with emerging technologies, Helping caregivers practice palliative care and Support for dementia patients and families
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