Posttraumatic stress disorder following a burn

What is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

Many people who survive or witness a burn injury will have psychological challenges linked to the trauma of the injury and the treatment. These symptoms are a normal reaction to a severe stress. They often get better within hours to several days.

For some people, these symptoms will linger and interfere with recovery and daily life. When this occurs you may have developed a stress disorder.  Acute stress disorder (ASD) is when symptoms last longer than three days. If the symptoms go on longer than one month, it is called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some symptoms are:

  • Reliving the event
  • Staying away from situations that remind you of the event
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  • Feeling keyed up

Many people with stress disorders may also:

  • Feel guilt, shame, or depression
  • Have problems with coworkers, friends, and loved ones
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs

What can I do?

If you feel you have a stress disorder it is important to find your social support and reach out for support. Discuss your concerns with your health care team. Only they can tell you if you have a stress disorder and if treatment is necessary.

Often treatment can help these problems. The coping skills you learn for dealing with the stress disorder can help you successfully recover from your burn injury.



Last reviewed: 
July 2018

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