Q. Post Traumatic Stress: Can a person be still suffering from PTS 68 years after the event? I was in a terrible accident in 1941 which took the lives of two people. I had many symptoms of PTD, but, of course, it was not recognized back then. I have suffered depression and/or anxiety on and off for years. I have recently written a novel in which I describe the accident and the young child’s reactions during that first year. I find that I cannot read it without crying. Am I now reliving that time?
A. It is certainly possible to have post traumatic stress for many years after an event, as you have described. I do not know if you are actually reliving the event as you reread your novel per sey. You may just be re-experiencing or simply remembering the powerful feelings and emotions that you felt regarding the event.
Traumas often seem to be seared into our memories. Any discussion, reminder or memory of these traumas can evoke long-held, deep emotions. The experience that you describe is not abnormal or unusual.
Having written a novel may give you a chance to work through the terrible accident in a way that may help you heal. Even as you heal, there may not ever come a time when you do not cry when reading that passage. Even if you did cry every time you read the passage, this should not be considered negative. Grieving their loss and healing in this way seems like a form of empathy, and not everyone is able to empathize.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Mar 2008
Randle, K. (2008). PTSD 68 Years After an Event?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/23/ptsd-68-years-after-an-event/