What is it?
Psychological shock, also known as acute stress reaction or simply shock, is a psychological condition resulting from a terrifying or traumatic event. It can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Common symptoms of shock include a feeling of numbness and emotional detachment, having memory problems, reliving the event over and over, anxiety, and a significant impairment in the ability to function. Shock can last from two days to four weeks.
What causes it?
Shock occurs in response to a traumatic or terrifying experience. It often involves or threatens a serious injury or death of the person themselves or someone else. Both males and females have been found to experience shock similarly.
What happens during it?
Our body has to be able to function differently in different situations. When we lie down to bed in the evening, we metabolize food effectively and are able to think clearly and analytically. When we are jogging and see a large aggressive dog running towards us, our heart rate increases in order to provide our muscles the oxygen they need to help us run for our lives.
This is managed through nervous signaling and hormones. We have a sympathetic nervous system, active in stressful situations, and a parasympathetic nervous system, active at rest. We also produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol under stress, and they help us stay alert and ready to face whatever physical threat is thrown at us.
Shock is largely due to this reaction. It has just been so severe that the effects continue long after the threat itself is gone.
How can it be treated?
Normally shock resolves with time, but this is not always the case. The focus of treatment is to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.Short-term use of medications, therapy, and relaxation techniques like meditation can be useful.