MY 23 yr old daughter suffers from severe asthma, she came for a visit from Illinois. I have a kitten she spent the night on Sept.4th at 3:25 am she woke up unable to breathe. My husband woke up and woke me up and at 3:27 am I called 911 to make a long story short she passed out stopped breathing and my husband did chest compressions for 28 minutes until the ambulance arrived..she died that day and by the Grace of God she lived…My question is how long before you can begin suffering from post traumatic stress disorder? I suffer from bi-polar disorder and am struggling with what I have went through. Thank You for your time.

A. I do not believe there is any certain time period that has to pass after a traumatic event before one can begin experiencing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, in order to receive a PTSD diagnosis, an individual would have to experience a particular set of symptoms for longer than one month. If an individual is experiencing PTSD symptoms within one month, after being exposed to a trauma, they could be diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder. Acute Stress Disorder is very similar to PTSD but the symptoms will generally be resolved within four weeks of the initial stressor.

If you have not sought psychological consultation, I would recommend that you do so. As you said, you are struggling with what has happened. In addition, you mentioned that you have bipolar disorder. The stress associated with the traumatic event that you have described could increase the possibility of having a bipolar episode. Meeting with your doctor or your therapist to process what has happened might prevent an episode.

Your daughter is very fortunate to have survived. It is a blessing for both you and your family. Take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle