Thursday, April 30, 2009

Many Holocaust survivors live with PTSD

Many Holocaust survivors live with PTSD


The Tampa Tribune

Published: April 30, 2009

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TAMPA - The final years are supposed to be a time of reflection, of pride in one's children and grandchildren, of looking back with satisfaction on accomplishments of a life well-lived.

To survivors of the Holocaust and combat soldiers of World War II, they instead can bring nightmares, terrifying flashbacks and a rekindling of trauma submerged but never really put to rest.

Maya Lazarus sees it in those who attend Holocaust survivor support groups through Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

"They are reliving it for the second time," she says. "For them, it is happening all over again."

They shun psychotherapy, but almost all take sleeping pills to help fend off nightmares, she says. Jewish nursing homes now renovate showers to look more homey and less like the dreaded gas chambers.

"All of them are hoarding bread like crazy," Lazarus says. "Food is always an issue because they were once starving."

Eric Gentry of Compassion Unlimited of Sarasota is an expert in the treatment of late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

People who survived the Holocaust, as well as combat veterans of World War II, are especially vulnerable to the effects of PTSD in later years because no one realized at the time how devastating such experiences could be in the long term, he says.

PTSD — afflicting those who suffer a traumatic event and subsequently experience anxiety and a variety of debilitating symptoms — became widely studied after the Vietnam War.
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Many Holocaust survivors live with PTSD

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