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Okay, so you have been bitten by a dog, and even worse, you are suffering from some of the side effects described in the last chapter. The first thing that anyone in this situation has to do is to recognize that there is a problem, and then seek a solution. This is sometimes harder than it might seem to someone that has never experienced this kind of issue. Many victims are afraid to admit to themselves that they have a problem, or are embarrassed because they think other people will look down on them. Other people are afraid that there will be a stigma attached to them if they are seen as having a mental problem. Sometimes people, especially children, simply do not see themselves clearly enough to recognize they have a problem that needs help.
Once the victim recognizes there is a problem, then the question becomes how to fix it? There are many different ways to deal with the effects of a dog attack. While there is no one method guaranteed to address these issues, there are certain steps that almost always help the victim start down the path to recovery. The first step is simply the recognition that there is a problem. This realization and facing the truth can greatly reduce the fear created by the attack. For example, the paranoia about dogs cannot begin to go away until the victim faces the cause of the fear.
Many of the fears, feelings and side affects of a dog attack can be overwhelming and just too much to handle by yourself. In this situation, talking through your problems with a family member or friend can be helpful. By talking about these feelings and fears, you can begin to see that the world before and after the attack is still the same, and the changes are inside your mind. This can be a step toward getting your life back to normal.
Unfortunately, in some cases this is not enough to fix the problem. This is especially true if the attack is severe or life-threatening. In these instances, it is so common for there to be bad side effects that there is a medical term used by doctors and mental health to describe the condition. It is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can happen to adults or children after a bad accident, seeing a terrible event and in many other stressful situations.
If you are someone who has PTSD, it is likely that you need the help of someone whose job is to help people with these problems. There are people, both doctors and psychologists, who can help you find out not only the reasons behind your problems, but also the best ways to cope with your feelings. These professionals are trained to help people who feel that their emotions and feelings are out of control. No one can predict when PTSD will occur, although some doctors believe it is more common in children than adults after a traumatic event.
In trying to understand why a dog bite occurred, some children try to make sense of the situation by thinking that the attack must have been punishment, and therefore the child either did something bad or must be a bad person. This kind of thought process leads to more bad feelings and can cause changes in the way the child behaves. These situations clearly require professional help.
The symptoms of PTSD may show up immediately after a dog attack or not until days, weeks or even months later. All people with PTSD are treated with a variety of tools by the doctor or psychologist that are designed to help the victim not only cope with the feelings and fear, but also realize it is not normal and it is not some kind of punishment. If a child suffers symptoms of PTSD after a dog attack, it is important to learn how to control and avoid the problems it causes in your life, and this is best accomplished by learning how your mind reacted to the attack and how it created these other issues and feelings.
Treatment of PTSD may be as short as a few weeks or as long as many years. Because all of us are different, each case is unique and will have its own time needed for success. Much of the treatment will consist of just talking to the doctor about what happened and how you feel about it. It can also involve playing games, doing artwork or other types of play. While all of this may seem like a strange form of medicine, it is all part of a highly developed science known as psychotherapy. It will help you learn to help yourself and get better.
Everyone has fears at some point in life. It is important to remember that fears and changes in behavior are a normal part of our growing up and are not always a bad thing. It is when these fears or changes begin to affect your life for the worse or prevent you from doing everyday activities that you need to be concerned and seek the help that you need.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
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