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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10627
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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This question isn't about me but instead about my girlfriend

Customer Question

This question isn't about me but instead about my girlfriend of about a year (don't worry I'm not looking for relationship advice). She is great: She is a practicing doctor and also a professional musician. We have similar interests and life goals. However, the more I get to know her (and the more comfortable she gets) the more I am finding out that she has still not recovered from a trauma suffered at 14 (she is now mid-30s). Her older sister (and oldest child in family) who she loved and admired more than anything was killed in a horrific car accident that frankly traumatized the entire family. Not only did she have to deal with the death, but she also overhead adults talking about the accident and how she was decapitated, mangled, etc. A horrific think for any teenage girl to endure, for sure. Now, she certainly has many adult qualities and made it through med school, residency, etc, so she certainly hasn't completely lost it. But I find more and more that I don't think she ever moved passed the age of 14 emotionally. In her personal life she is very irresponsible, forgetful, and just childish (don't know how else to explain). The only other sibling she gets along with is her youngest sister in high school. She cries and goes beserk over trivial things. She has childish tastes in food, drink, etc. she still watches childrens movies and hates serious adult movies. I could go on.
She has admitted that she never fully confronted these issues (and has said that is probably why she has had trouble in relationships). She saw a psychologist 5 years ago to try amd resolve but he ended up falling in love with her (she is very attractive and vulnerable) so she got scared and never went back. I want things to work out but I want an adult partner to share my life with and raise kids with.
I believe that she is able to suppress her feelings by staying constantly busy: She is a doctor and a competitive runner. She exercises compulsively and is never sitting still; I don't ever think I've seen her thoughts settle once. She is always exercising, working, or doing something around the house to stay active. I cannot get her to settle down, ever.
My question is twofold: 1) Is there a specific name for this condition that I can read more about? The closest I have found is the story of Angelica Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton's daughter) upon hearing of her eldest brother's death in a duel: http://itshamiltime.com/2015/02/16/hamil-fam-angelica-hamilton/
2) My second question is whether you feel this is a treatable condition and, if so, how long can I expect to wait to determine if she will be able to overcome? I'm also in my mid-30s and as much as I love her, but I want to make an informed decision about our future given her mental condition.
Your help is greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. I am very sorry to hear about your girlfriend's history, I can understand why she would be suffering from this level of trauma. To answer your questions:

1. I cannot diagnose your girlfriend without a face to face evaluation, but there is no specific name for this besides Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD can definitely vary from individual to individual and her compulsion to exercise could just be a coping mechanism for her to not be alone with her thoughts. But again I would only be speculating as I have never evaluated your girlfriend face to face. There may be other disorders present here that have been overshadowed by the PTSD, but that would be impossible to tell at this stage until the PTSD slowly resolves with treatment.

2. PTSD can definitely be treated using a combination of psychotherapy and/or medications, some patients do not like the use of medications, so psychoatherapy is the predominant treatment for those individuals. But as for how long the treatment can last is dependent on the severity of your girlfriend's symptoms and how she responds to the treatment. Some people respond very well and other are a bit more resistant. The average timeline for treatment from Childhood/Adolescent Trauma is usually around 9-18 months but like I said it may vary dependent on your girlfriend's symptoms and how she responds to treatment.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Great answer, thanks!
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

You are most welcome. I wish you and your girlfriend all the best :)

*Please do not forget to leave a positive rating at the top of the page so that I can get credit for helping you. Thank you, ***** ***** appreciate it.

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