Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): An anxiety disorder that can occur after an individual has undergone extreme emotional trauma. It is most commonly associated with soldiers returning from war or victims of violent crime, but some experts now believe it can also befall caregivers. In fact, when I saw my doctor shortly after my mother died, it was something she mentioned.
In a way it sounds crazy; how could the impact of caregiving compare to war or violent crime? Obviously, they are very different, and I don’t think anyone is trying to imply they can be compared. But if you unravel what occurs in a caregiver’s life over many years, it’s reasonable to believe some form of PTSD is certainly within the realm of possibility – perhaps to varying degrees depending upon many factors.
Barry Jacobs is a clinical psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers. Dr. Jacobs notes that many caregivers wrestle with uncontrollable disruptive, distressing thoughts months – and sometimes years – after a loved one has died...