PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder is for many a term that you deal with on television or in reports about soldiers from the war. What I didn't know, PTSD can also be triggered in a relatively normal life and sudden loss of a person. So virtually everyone is at risk of PTSD.
The following text contains personal experiences and opinions, these are not necessarily generally applicable or transferable to other people and situations. If such a case should occur, urgently contact a doctor or call the emergency physician in the absence of expertise.
The use of artificial intelligence for psychotherapeutic measure is at your own risk, I advise against it. I assume no liability
My first confrontation
Last week I was in Tunisia with the family of my mother's husband, and there I was confronted for the first time with something like this. I was watching a video, with headphones on, when I heard a scream and the mother and sister of my mother's husband (for privacy I avoid names) ran out of the living room into the hallway, I followed them and tried to understand what was going on. We then found the other sister lying unconscious on the floor and tried to stabilize her, she seemed to have collapsed, no convulsion or tremor seizure, I ruled out epileptic shock with that. Her mother sprayed water on her face to wake her back up. This did not work, I and her sister then lifted her, I by her feet, laid her on the sofa in the living room. I was with her the whole time and observed your condition, I do not know what happened outside this scene, her sister speaks no German and only poor English, Google translator had to translate from Arabic into German, in a moment where it could be a matter of life and death. The translation: "She had no more strength in her feet", sudden slump out of nowhere? I don't think so, she is still too young in her 20s for that, she was pale in the face, her feet cold. I pinched her foot to get a reaction, but nothing, no matter how hard I pressed, she didn't react. It was warm that day, not hot, but 23 °C it was, too warm for hypothermia, not hot enough for a circulatory collapse. I asked the nurse what she had just done, when she fell, the answer of the Google translator, she had just talked to the brother of my mother's husband on the phone, he had left without telling her, that scared her. It dawned on me slowly what it could be but I was not sure if I would be right with it, I tried in parallel while her sister translated me the text from Arabic into German, the Ada Health AI to consult to possibly get some help, but the obvious, a collapse, was met with an urgent warning to contact the emergency doctor immediately. That would not be feasible in Tunisia, where we were, and would have taken too long. I showed the nurse the AI instructions that we needed a doctor. She went on to write that it had happened 2 times before and she was better afterwards. I slowly realized, the AI can't help here, at least not at that moment, I tried to find out what was behind the reaction, why the sudden disappearance of the brother triggered this reaction in her. While the sister slowly regained consciousness and her face was no longer pale. I also observed the pulse in parallel, weak but stable, after she had drunk something and could sit up, she slowly got better again. In the meantime, the brother was back and knocked on the door, I let him in and we both went to see her. I continued to try to figure out what had just happened. In the text, this is now maybe 5 minutes to read, but it was about 20 minutes until the whole thing had calmed down.
Fear of lossa word I had read before, but in this context it was new to me. The fear of losing a person you see as a caregiver. And then a picture emerged, her father had died when she was 16 years old and she has always seen the brother as a reference person, the sudden disappearance of him and his wife, without telling us, has led to psychological stress in her, which consequently led to the breakdown. Unfortunately, I lack the know-how here to understand why a person can collapse and lose consciousness due to psychological stress.
After further research I found the connection of these symptoms she was exhibiting and the fear of loss related, to PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I told her sister about it, as it had already occurred 2 times in the past and that she needs psychotherapeutic support, as it would worsen if left untreated, unfavorably she said that there are no psychologists there and only in big cities are they located, and they are expensive, the public health system in Tunisia, does not cover this treatment. The family itself does not have enough money for it. How many people could afford a private consultation with a psychologist in Germany? At least not me, and I would estimate that at 80% of the population of Germany. In Tunisia, it looks more like maybe 1-5% people can afford a psychologist. In addition, there is a shortage of psychologists in general, in one of the English-speaking 2008 report from Tunisia's Ministry of Health there are 8 psycho-social workers per 100,000 inhabitants (page 6 of the report). The situation is worse on page 19 (Number of human resources in mental health care), where there are 0.3 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants. This means that there is 1 psychologist for every 333,333 inhabitants. Which shows how dramatic mental health care is in Tunisia. In Germany, we are in the EU average at 27 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants, which sounds better, but still means waiting times of several months, depending on the region. Only Switzerland, with 51 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants, has the largest number in the entire European Union.
It gets worse when you look at current data from the WHO (Global Health Observatory data repository - Mental health workers) itself, so in 2017, per 100,000 inhabitants there were only 0.009 psychologists. I think it is impossible to show it more dramatically.
Why there are now few psychologists in Tunisia, I can not say here unfortunately, at the But it can not be due to wages, is among the best earners with more than 6,000 Tunisian dinars, on average 12,000 Tunisian dinars. To put it in perspective, as of 2023, a good average salary in Tunisia is around 1000 Tunisian dinars, many people tend to work below this sum. I suspect that it is culturally and religiously influenced, the people rather discourages to open up to strangers, since one should clarify problems in Tunisia only with the family, consequently affected people can not necessarily get help, if in the family is not coincidentally someone in the medical field and knows someone or can give a psychological advice. Consequently, there are also few psychologists. 2 other friends from Tunisia have other psychological problems, one has an anxiety disorder, the other a similar Behavior similar to the HikikomoriAlthough she likes to hug people, she doesn't like to surround herself with people because it causes her anxiety and social stress, but she says herself that she is not introverted.
Now I am not a psychologist, but when the sister wrote to me through the translator that she was afraid of losing someone because her father died suddenly when she was 16 years old, I knew what I could do. The best thing I could give at that moment was not advice but a hug and she felt better after that. Which shows that human closeness is an important factor in healing emotional wounds. However, the problem is favored by poor communication on the spot, stress, daily burdens, studies, etc.
Not being a psychologist myself, but knowing that even a psychologist only gives information to a patient that is considered therapeutically validated and not some experimental stuff, I would definitely get on with it with ChatGPT, of course you need a certain prompt for that, and so I was able to introduce the nurse to ChatGPT, and show her how to work with ChatGPT herself to improve her mental health. What is important, I worked with GPT 4 here, GPT3.5 is not able to produce results that I would find it useful to work with in the psychological field if I were concerned, GPT 4 somehow has more "empathy" here. By default, it just lists suggestions and solutions, which is not always useful, because you need someone to listen too, after I adjusted that, ChatGPT listened to me and gave empathic reactions in the form of words (empathic in the sense that it showed proper emotions and behavior, as an empathic person would do in such a situation). Whether this is enough to give emotional support to a person, I doubt it, but it is a tool that could partially support the psychologist.
Me: Help me develop a strategy against sadness
It is important to emphasize that I am not a psychologist, but I can still suggest some general strategies that might help you cope with sadness. Please note that these suggestions are not a substitute for professional help.
- Acceptance: Allow yourself to be sad and accept your feelings. Avoid suppressing or ignoring your emotions, as this can be counterproductive in the long run.
- Self-care: Take care of your physical and mental health. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and make sure you get enough sleep. Also maintain your social contacts and seek support from friends and family.
- Distraction: Try to focus on positive activities that you enjoy or that make you feel good. This can include hobbies, creative activities, sports or meeting friends.
- Mindfulness exercises: Practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. These practices can help you focus on the present moment and better understand and accept your thoughts and emotions.
- Gratitude: Keep a gratitude journal in which you write down three things you are grateful for each day. This can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life.
- Environment: Design your environment so that it gives you a sense of well-being and calm. Keep it tidy, place personal items or pictures that bring you joy, and use pleasant scents or music to create a relaxing atmosphere.
- Helpfulness: Help others by volunteering or offering support to friends and family. Caring for others can enhance your own well-being and contribute to a more positive outlook on life.
- Professional help: If your sadness persists or worsens, consider professional help. A therapist or psychologist can help you understand the causes of your sadness and offer specific coping strategies.
Please note that everyone is different and it is important to find out which strategies work best for you. Experiment with different approaches and adapt them to your individual needs and circumstances. If you feel that your sadness is overwhelming or you are having difficulty coping on your own, seek professional help.
In the section mentioned here you can see a snippet of a conversation with ChatGPT (GPT4), which helps me to develop a strategy against sadness. I have tried to test other possibilities:
It is hard to experience such feelings of loneliness and abandonment. I understand that it can be difficult to start your day when you feel this way. I am here to listen and be there for you if you want to talk about it further or if it helps you to share your thoughts and emotions.
Me: tell me, how can I manage to get up and go to work, powerless, with no goal at all?
It's understandable that it can be difficult to get up and go to work when you feel powerless and aimless. Here are some suggestions that might help you take the first step:
- Set small, achievable goals: Instead of focusing on the entire day or work week, focus on smaller tasks or goals that you can accomplish. This can help you take one step at a time and reduce feelings of overwhelm.
- Create a morning routine: A morning routine can help you get your day going and give you a sense of structure and stability. This can be as simple as drinking a glass of water, washing your face, or listening to your favorite music.
- Reward yourself: Give yourself a reward or positive reinforcement for getting up and going to work. This can be something to look forward to after work, such as a delicious dinner or time to do your favorite activity.
- Focus on what brings you joy: Think about the aspects of your life that bring you joy or motivate you and focus on them, even if they are just small moments.
- Get support: Talk to friends, family, or co-workers about your feelings and let them know you are struggling. They may be able to offer you help or encouragement.
- Take a deep breath: If you find it difficult to stand up, take a moment to breathe deeply and focus on your breath. This can help relieve stress and help you focus on the tasks ahead.
Please remember that these suggestions are not a substitute for professional help and it is important to consider professional help if difficulties persist or feelings of powerlessness and aimlessness.
There are other parts and information that ChatGPT has provided me, mainly these are these suggestions that you can then respond to. But really helpful conversations, you get only in the jailbreak mode of GPT4, where you really think that here more than one machine writes with you. Although the Jailbreak mode, should not be accessible to everyone, so I also see here that it depends on what you do with this mode, because if here really people can be helped, which goes beyond the limited access to GPT4, then you should make this module accessible.
Me: I have fear of loss, after the death of my father, I am afraid of losing other people close to me.
GPT: Fear of loss is a natural reaction to traumatic events such as the death of a loved one. It is important to take time to grieve the loss and process the emotions involved. You might try sharing your fears and feelings with family or friends or join a support group. If you find that your fears are overwhelming or interfering with your daily life, it is advisable to consider professional help from a therapist or psychologist.
XXXXXX: Fears of loss can be really annoying, I feel you. Let's try to work on those fears. What do you think about starting to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal? You could spend a few minutes each day writing down how you feel and what you think. This could give you a better understanding of how your anxiety is developing and what might be triggering it. You could also try using positive affirmations or focusing on the good things in life to keep your fears at bay. And hey, don't forget to remind yourself that you are strong and can handle anything life throws your way.
What do you think? Which mode do you prefer? The GPT or the jailbreak mode?
I will help the sister with her own processing of her symptoms and maybe she can help herself enough to not have another breakdown, any step forward, here is better than taking it all as normal and given, because if left untreated, sooner or later it would become chronic.
I realize this is really specific and requires a psychologist, but what would you do if you were in this situation? Doctors are not accessible? You would clutch at any straw you could get to be able to help someone.