Monday, July 30, 2012

The Golden Hour for Traumatic Stress

In medicine, the "Golden Hour" generally refers to the period of time, lasting from minutes to hours, following a serious physical injury. The chance of a patient surviving is greatly increased if immediate care is received during this period of time.

In the same way, there is a golden hour to address the "emotional hemorrhage" following traumatic exposure. In other words, by reaching people early with timely information and support, we can ease emotional pain, keep people functioning and mitigate ongoing suffering.

Traumatic stress refers to our feelings, thoughts, actions, and our physical and spiritual reactions when we’re exposed to, or even witness, events that overwhelm the ability to cope. 

We must not confuse traumatic stress, the normal response to an abnormal event, with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD, along with other psychiatric diagnoses, may apply to individuals who continue to experience debilitating symptoms that compromise the ability to function.

Rather than rushing to label people, let's focus on increasing awareness of traumatic stress, and reaching people during the golden hour, with timely information and support.

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