Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe psychological reaction to a traumatic event. It involves the persistent re-experiencing of the trauma, avoidance of stimuli which remind the person of the event, increased arousal, and a numbing of emotional responses.
For sudden cardiac arrest survivors the loss of memory for the circumstances around the time of the event means that many are not troubled by disturbing memories. However, some develop a fear of circumstances similar to that of their event, and a small number of people have disturbing memories of the early stages of their recovery.
Approximately 80% of SCA’s occur at home and often the first on the scene and the first to attend the patient is a family member. Even if the person is familiar with CPR, performing it on a loved one can be a totally different matter and this traumatic situation is likely not prepared for. Also if family members are just witnesses to the event the shock and horror of what is happening to a loved one can be at best, deeply unsettling.
Be aware that PTSD is not routinely screened for in either the survivor or close family members and symptoms can take weeks, months or even years to surface.