Holocaust Survivors and Delayed-onset PTSD

Survivors of the Holocaust experience PTSD

Holocaust survivors came out of the concentration camps and back into a world that didn’t want to hear their stories. Like many of us, they faced a “curtain of silence” from cultures in the new countries they moved to, from communities that couldn’t bear the pain of the truth, and their own need to move forward. In fact, even therapists (to the few Holocaust survivors who entered therapy) encouraged them to suppress the details and get on with life.

But you know what happens when you stuff down traumatic memories, anxiety, panic, fear and other normal post-trauma responses: It all comes out in other ways. For many Holocaust survivors this meant living with subclinical PTSD: symptoms that lay below the radar. While they created successful lives issues of hypervigilance, arousal, avoidance, re-experiencing, flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts and mood alterations continued to crop up.

Studies reveal that later in life traumas (i.e. the death of a spouse) can transform subclinical PTSD into delayed-onset PTSD. What happens then? How do we make a life a meaning despite trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms? What do the experts see help in allowing us to not only cope but to heal?

In honor of Yom HaShoah, the day of Holocaust remembrance, I recently published an article that answers all of those questions. Click here to read about Holocaust survivors, trauma, PTSD and tools anyone can use to access resilience.



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