Munchausen’s Syndrome

By Charlotte Arehart

Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder where the individual continuously pretends to have various ailments and illnesses to seek medical attention for them. There are several other versions of Munchausen’s syndrome, including Munchausen through proxy as well as Munchausen through the internet. Munchausen’s syndrome is a mental illness that often comes along with other mental difficulties such as depression and anxiety.

Since Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose sometimes. After all, the patient is likely to be lying about their symptoms and illnesses. There are a few things that may hint that a patient has Munchausen’s syndrome, such as inconsistent medical history, constantly changing or unclear symptoms, predictable relapses, extensive medical knowledge, new symptoms after a negative test or undesired test results, symptoms are only present when the patient is being watched or is near people, and seeking treatment in many different places.

Many times in the news we hear about cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, which is when a caregiver or parent pretends that their child is afflicted by ailments. There are many famous cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, such as the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. In cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by internet, the individual attends online support groups pretending to be afflicted with the struggle that those who are attending the meetings are actually experiencing. This could be either to mock those who are attending, or simply for attention.

It is important that medical staff keeps an eye out for those who may be experiencing Munchausen’s Syndrome, since it can be difficult to spot. Those who are suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome or Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy should seek mental health treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Munchausen’s syndrome, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/munchausen-syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554979/

https://10faq.com/health/munchausen-syndrome-symptoms/?utm_source=7017173049&utm_campaign=6449781305&utm_medium=78641056298&utm_content=78641056298&utm_term=munchausen%20syndrome&gclid=CjwKCAjwieuGBhAsEiwA1Ly_nQk9C1zizAwKaVlu7DhBKde8bnBOPK7v4QhwG7rYBc-ZZj3av-254BoCzqAQAvD_BwE

Image Source: https://healthproadvice.com/mental-health/An-Understanding-of-Munchausen-Syndrome

Social Media: Self-Diagnosing

By Charlotte Arehart

For many people, it has become a habit to turn to the internet with any questions that one might have. While it is great to have the answers to the world at our fingertips, we have to keep in mind that just because we find an answer on the internet does not mean it is the correct one. Googling the answers to everything can be particularly harmful when it comes to physical and mental health. Searching a simple symptom such as a stomach ache may lead to answers that suggest the individual has appendicitis, when in reality they may only be having indigestion. With the internet becoming more powerful than ever, more people have been self-diagnosing with physical and mental health issues without seeking help from a professional.

Social media has played a huge role in the increase of self-diagnosing. Many influential social media users with a large platform use their platform to speak and educate viewers about mental illnesses. While this is great in terms of normalizing and reducing the stigma around mental health issues, it becomes harmful when viewers use this information to self-diagnose. I personally have seen many videos on platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok where the creator lists several widely general and common “symptoms,” such as sleeping in too much or having a short attention span, then follow up with something along the lines of “if you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have ADHD!” In the comments section, I see floods of viewers who are now concerned that they may have a mental disorder simply because they experience a few of the general symptoms listed. It seems that these videos create a lot of stress in people who do not actually need to be worried, since the symptoms listed are often so generalized. However, I do think that it is very beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues to receive support and a sense of community through social media. It can be very comforting to know that you are not alone going through something. If creators wish to speak about mental health issues on social media, it should be done in a very careful way. Addressing mental health on social media does present a wide variety of benefits, however it becomes an issue when people are self-diagnosing and becoming worried without speaking to a professional.

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://etactics.com/blog/problems-with-self-diagnosis

Image Source: https://dailytitan.com/opinion/column-self-diagnosing-mental-health-disorders-is-hazardous/article_d953ca7f-0eae-57d2-81fb-d0d339734788.html

Physician Burnout during a Global Pandemic

By Eleanor Kim

Physicians and nurses around the world have been at the front lines fighting the coronavirus and saving the lives of those infected. Now more than ever, citizens are coming to realize the importance of those within the medical field and the bravery that comes with entering medicine. That being said, there has been an immense amount of pressure placed upon healthcare workers, often causing stress, anxiety, and depression. At the end of the day, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are humans and can feel the effects of burnout during such a heightened and high stakes moment in medical history.

Burnout is when someone becomes overwhelmed by the demands of their daily life, becoming emotionally and physically exhausted and creating a sense of depersonalization and weakened personal accomplishments. Burnout is a common occurrence among physicians and nurses given the great amount of pressure that comes with saving lives. That being said, these feelings of burnout have skyrocketed given the additionally taxing nature of current frontline medical work such as the stress of isolating from friends and family, the extended hours of work, the tragic lack of medical supplies, and the fear of contracting or spreading the virus, to name a few. Physicians are also left to deal with the other struggles and anxieties that the past year has brought upon the general population regarding economic, political, racial, and other personal effects of the pandemic.

During these elongated periods where healthcare workers are left sleep deprived, improperly fed, and overall anxious about the current status of the pandemic, they are exposed to both mentally and physically long lasting effects. In 2020, there have been a record number of physicians who have reported feelings of burnout and other mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic. Should these issues go untreated, there is an increased risk for depression, self-medication, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Burnout is more than just stress; it is a mental health crisis and should be treated as such.

If you or someone you know is feeling the effects of physician and healthcare worker burnout, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/05/17/doctor-heal-thyself-physician-burnout-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/

Image Source:

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/04/14/more-than-a-third-of-medical-staff-suffered-insomnia-during-the-covid-19-epidemic-in-china/

Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You

By Eleanor Kim

Pets have brought joy and comfort to pet owners for hundreds of years. The sheer presence of a happy-go-lucky dog or cat is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The benefits of pet ownership can go beyond mere companionship or responsibility, in fact, emotional support animals are able to, as their name indicates, provide emotional support and other mental health benefits.

Common ways in which emotional support animals could support their owners are:

  • Fostering emotional connectivity
  • Helping people during times of crisis
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Offering trauma support
  • Improving physical health (Lower blood pressure, decrease respiration rates, improve ability to cope with pain, etc.)
  • Lowering feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Reciprocating feelings of love and care

It is important to indicate the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals also provide emotional support to their owners; however, service animals undergo intensive training to perform specific tasks necessary to aid their owners’ needs. In contrast, emotional support animals do not need formal training and simply need to receive a certification from the state registry. In order to qualify for an emotional service animal, individuals must acquire a prescription from a licensed mental health professional indicating that the presence of an emotional support animal is necessary for the mental health of the patient.

In a time when all of us are at home and may be in need of more emotional support, emotional support animals may provide the help you need. If you are interested in receiving emotional support, whether that be through a support animal or through a mental health professional, we here at Arista Counseling are here to assist you.

If you or someone you know is looking for emotional support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

References:

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479#definition

Picture Source:

https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/can-cats-dogs-live-together-peacefully

Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

References:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg

Depression: Life During Covid-19

Depression: Life During Covid-19

By: Ziara Pena

Covid-19 has impacted the lives of everyone worldwide. We are living in a society where the new norm is not being able to see the faces of others due to masks. Social distancing and fear of the virus contribute to the limitation of human interaction.

The virus has instilled such fear, causing some individuals to not see anyone outside of their household in almost a year. Grandparents didn’t get to watch their grandchildren’s first steps, many didn’t get to say a final goodbye to their loved ones and ceremonies such as graduations and weddings were canceled. Covid-19 has brought much negativity and hurt to the lives of many. Catching the virus is not the only thing that we need to be worrying about. Mental health, particularly depression, has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Studies have proven that suicide rates have skyrocketed from 1% to 145%. These numbers do not even include the rates of suicidal ideations and self-harm.

Now more than ever is when we need to spread awareness of the importance of taking care of our mental health similarly as we take care of our physical health. If you or someone you know needs mental health support throughout the pandemic, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

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Sources: https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4352

Photo Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=nurse+covid+19+crying&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiAg7Co4NruAhXXFVkFHV_lB-QQ_AUoAXoECAYQAw&biw=1600&bih=708#imgrc=2ZCuCtlSreICKM

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

By: Kassandra Lora

Once the seasons change from fall to winter and the days become shorter, some individuals may notice a change in their moods. Some of these mood changes may be a slight feeling of being “down” but other times, these mood changes can be more severe and can have a significant effect on a person. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually affects a person once the seasons are changing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression.” It is not as common for someone to develop SAD symptoms during the spring and summer months, although it is still possible.

Some significant depression symptoms may include:

•           feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

•           losing interest in activities

•           changes in appetite or weight

•           having problems with sleep

•           having low energy

•           feeling worthless or hopeless

•           having difficulty concentrating

•           having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, to develop the diagnosis of having SAD, you must have the symptoms of major depression or must have some of the symptoms listed above. You must also have these depressive episodes occur to you during a specific season for a least two consecutive years.

Individuals who are more susceptible to developing SAD are more commonly those who live further north. Furthermore, according to the Nation Institute of Mental Health, “SAD is more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II disorder, which is associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes.” SAD is also more commonly found in women than men.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a severe condition, though scientists cannot understand what exactly causes SAD. Scientists have done the research and have suggested that people with SAD may have reduced serotonin activity, regulating mood. Researchers have also indicated how lack of sunlight in people with SAD can affect their serotonin levels, affecting their mood. Although these are all possible causes and effects which determined why individuals may have SAD it is still unclear if these are the exact reason. However, these causes and effects can be useful when focusing on treatment.Treatments that may help people with SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and vitamin D.

Speak to your health care provider about which treatment or combination is most suitable for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices.

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Image Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/03/how-i-learned-cope-seasonal-affective-disorder-grad-school

Bipolar Disorder: Loving someone with bipolar disorder, the ups and downs

Bipolar Disorder: Loving someone with bipolar disorder, the ups and downs
By Zoe Alekel

Loving someone with bipolar disorder can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge to help both you and your loved one. The first step in loving someone with bipolar disorder would be to understand what it means to be bipolar. Although you may never know exactly how your loved one feels, it is important to understand and educate yourself about their behaviors and emotions. According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). To understand what your loved one is going through, it is key to remind yourself that your loved one can’t always control these emotional mood swings—and more importantly it is not a reflection of you or how they feel about you.

It is understandable that it can be difficult to understand these seemingly sudden and intense mood swings, and your loved one struggling with bipolar disorder may already know this and feel bad about how it affects you. Make sure you approach them with kindness, and always ask them what you can do to help them. Sometimes space and understanding that the mood swing will pass is enough support for your loved one. No matter how involved or uninvolved they want you to be with their mental health, always respect their wishes.

One thing you can do to help you cope with your loved one’s bipolar disorder is to find others that have loved ones with bipolar disorder as well. Additionally, you can reach out to a therapist to share your feelings and the struggles that you experience as someone who has a loved one diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A way you can further educate yourself on bipolar disorder is to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. NAMI provides credible information for those with loved ones diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and suggests you can try the following to help a family member or friend with bipolar disorder:

  • Recognizing and preventing serious mood episodes/ mood swings
  • Being able to recognize the warning signs of mania and depression
  • Making sure your loved one is taking their medication regularly and consistently (as directed)
  • Communicating and making time to talk to your loved one about their feelings when they feel ready
  • Remaining calm and rational with your loved one
  • Keeping a positive attitude and a clear mind to help your loved one the best you can
  • Reaching out for psychological support for you and your loved one

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources: https://nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder/Support#:~:text=NAMI%20and%20NAMI%20Affiliates%20are%20there%20to%20provide,about%20bipolar%20disorder%20or%20finding%20support%20and%20resources.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-is-2020/201206/bipolar-disorder-loving-someone-who-is-manic-depressive

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955#:~:text=Both%20a%20manic%20and%20a%20hypomanic%20episode%20include,sprees%2C%20taking%20sexual%20risks%20or%20making%20foolish%20investments

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Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

By: Zoe Alekel

Have you been experiencing persistent sadness, anxiety, or feelings of emptiness? Even hopelessness, irritability, guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies—these are all symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). More commonly, MDD is known as depression. Dealing with this diagnosis is not easy because of how long these symptoms can last and how invasive they feel.

The Mayo Clinic defines MDD as “A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living” (Mayo Clinic). It is important to consider contacting a doctor or a therapist to discuss these symptoms, as they can become more severe and invasive with time.

Some ways you can reach help are:

  • Call a local counseling or psychological center.
  • Call a psychiatrist in your area that can help provide medication if needed.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one for support.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that the earlier the treatment begins with a therapist or a psychiatrist, the more effective it can be. Depression can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination. Additionally, meditation and mindfulness can help develop coping skills for those experiencing depression. If you are experiencing depression, it is important to remember that there is hope and there is a way out of the darkness you are experiencing.

If you or someone you know needs support with depression, please contact our psychotherapy office in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722 – 1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Image Source:
http://metamedianews.com/2018/06/mdd-major-depressive-disorder/

Acute Stress Disorder: Reliving trauma

Acute Stress Disorder: reliving trauma
By: Zoe Alekel

It is not uncommon to experience a traumatic event in life. In fact, trauma related incidences range from experiencing a car accident, to experiencing an assault or witnessing a crime. All of these stressful situations can be lead causes to an anxiety disorder known as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). According to the American Institute of Stress, ASD is defined by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms that occur for a short time after experiencing a trauma—an experience that can be emotionally distressful and painful, and that can cause mental and physical symptoms. After experiencing a traumatic event, it is not uncommon to develop ASD; in fact 5-20% of people that experience traumatic events will develop ASD.

Symptoms of ASD include intrusion symptoms, like involuntary distressing memories; negative mood symptoms, such as the inability to experience positive emotions like love and happiness; dissociative symptoms, like seeing yourself from the outside, the feeling that nothing is real and that time is slowed down; avoidance symptoms, such as avoiding thoughts, feelings, and places associated with the trauma; and arousal symptoms, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, irritable behavior, and difficulty concentrating.

This can be extremely overwhelming and invasive to someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and it is uncomfortable to feel as if you have to relive the event itself. However, ASD does not have to take over your life completely. By implementing an immediate therapeutic intervention right after the trauma, it decreases the likelihood of ASD becoming prolonged and turning into PTSD. Ways to manage the stress and anxiety that comes with ASD are mindfulness and relaxation, talking to a trained trauma specialist, and having a support system that you can confide in.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Acute Stress Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ Sources: https://www.stress.org/acute-stress-disorder https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/acute-stress-disorder

Sources:

https://www.stress.org/acute-stress-disorder

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/acute-stress-disorder

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