PDA

View Full Version : Psychological Trauma and Fever



SabaFromMars
03-07-2013, 10:35 PM
Hi http://www.writingforums.org/images/skins/cloudskin/smilies/smile.gif I'm back with another question:

Can psychological trauma cause fever? The thing is, I have a character, a girl got a psychological shock "because she was forced to watch her best friend get killed before her eyes" will she have a fever "with all the shaking and delirium things" after 8-10 hours of the accident? I read some about psychological trauma and it's symptoms but I couldn't find anything related to the fever and delirium except if the one would have nightmares about the cause of trauma. So I appreciate any help you can offer.

Thanks.

benbenberi
03-07-2013, 11:00 PM
An anecdote from the 1640s: the Duke d'Enghien, aged 18, was forced completely against his will to marry the 12-year-old niece of Cardinal Richelieu. Immediately after the wedding he retreated to his room and stayed in bed, profoundly depressed, for many months. Intense fever was apparently one of the more alarming symptoms in the early weeks - doctors feared for his life at one point. Later on they only feared for his sanity, as he spent weeks lying in the dark listening to people read very long romantic novels to him. (I think we can all relate!) Eventually he came out of it, but he never did reconcile himself to the marriage, which was a truly bad one for all involved.

cornflake
03-08-2013, 12:02 AM
Hi http://www.writingforums.org/images/skins/cloudskin/smilies/smile.gif I'm back with another question:

Can psychological trauma cause fever? The thing is, I have a character, a girl got a psychological shock "because she was forced to watch her best friend get killed before her eyes" will she have a fever "with all the shaking and delirium things" after 8-10 hours of the accident? I read some about psychological trauma and it's symptoms but I couldn't find anything related to the fever and delirium except if the one would have nightmares about the cause of trauma. So I appreciate any help you can offer.

Thanks.

What do you mean by 'a psychological shock?' Like it was shocking?

I've never heard of witnessing something distressing causing fever and delirium.

Also, you refer to this as an accident at some point.

electroweakstar
03-08-2013, 12:15 AM
I just did a quick glance around and found "neurogenic fever" and "post-traumatic hyperthermia". Both seem to be tied to head/brain injury.

Does she needs to have a fever? Shaking, delirium, hot and cold flashes are symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome and can come on at any time. Fever doesn't seem to be necessary when there's so many delightful psychological symptoms to draw from.

SophieB
03-08-2013, 03:24 AM
I'm a psych nurse, and the fast answer is "no". Shock can cause disturbances in temp, but would happen immediately following the trauma. As Electroweakstar mentioned, though, PTSD symptoms can show up anytime.
The longer answer is that the body and mind are inextricably linked in ways no one understands yet. In the same way some yogis, etc, can drastically slow their heart rate, it's possible for mental illness to manifest in physical symptoms. It would have to be written as a medical mystery, though, because it's definitely not anything one would expect to see, and then you'd be shifting the focus to the medical issue...
Racing heart, high BP, clammy skin, dizziness are all well within the realm of possible reactions.

StormChord
03-08-2013, 06:50 AM
Well, I doubt that she'd get a fever immediately following the event, but if she put herself under stress following it she could easily think herself into a psychological illness. 8 to 10 hours might be enough time. Don't take my word for it, though.

boron
03-08-2013, 12:14 PM
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as described elsewhere, like here (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/DS00246/DSECTION=symptoms), presents with psychological symptoms, some of which can be felt and look physical, but do not include fever. Eventual hot flashes or other warm feelings do not reflect fever, which means a rise of the body core temperature.

A true allergic reaction in the form of red bumps or patches--hives or urticaria--anywhere on the skin may occur in severe psychological stress, though. The skin may feel warm to the touch but, again, this is not fever.

Post-traumatic hyperthermia mentioned in a post above may follow physical, not psychological trauma.

A severely depressed person may have weakened immunity and can catch an infection, like flu, easier.

SabaFromMars
03-08-2013, 10:14 PM
I just did a quick glance around and found "neurogenic fever" and "post-traumatic hyperthermia". Both seem to be tied to head/brain injury.

Does she needs to have a fever? Shaking, delirium, hot and cold flashes are symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome and can come on at any time. Fever doesn't seem to be necessary when there's so many delightful psychological symptoms to draw from.

Thanks for the reply :) I thought about fever from a "dramatic" point of view, that's why I'm asking to make sure if this was medically-reliable.

SabaFromMars
03-08-2013, 10:16 PM
I'm a psych nurse, and the fast answer is "no". Shock can cause disturbances in temp, but would happen immediately following the trauma. As Electroweakstar mentioned, though, PTSD symptoms can show up anytime.
The longer answer is that the body and mind are inextricably linked in ways no one understands yet. In the same way some yogis, etc, can drastically slow their heart rate, it's possible for mental illness to manifest in physical symptoms. It would have to be written as a medical mystery, though, because it's definitely not anything one would expect to see, and then you'd be shifting the focus to the medical issue...
Racing heart, high BP, clammy skin, dizziness are all well within the realm of possible reactions.

Thanks so much for the reply, it's really useful :)

boozysassmouth
03-09-2013, 06:02 AM
Does she needs to have a fever? Shaking, delirium, hot and cold flashes are symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome and can come on at any time.

I've never seen these things associated with PTSD. Together they sound like medical, not psychological symptoms, to me. Though delirium is in the DSM-IV, it's mostly associated with the elderly. Shaking, when it's a reaction to stress, it generally an excess of adrenaline released during the stressing event that hasn't had time to pass through the body yet. I don't know enough about hot and cold flashes to comment.


I'm a psych nurse, and the fast answer is "no". Shock can cause disturbances in temp, but would happen immediately following the trauma. As Electroweakstar mentioned, though, PTSD symptoms can show up anytime.
The longer answer is that the body and mind are inextricably linked in ways no one understands yet. In the same way some yogis, etc, can drastically slow their heart rate, it's possible for mental illness to manifest in physical symptoms. It would have to be written as a medical mystery, though, because it's definitely not anything one would expect to see, and then you'd be shifting the focus to the medical issue...
Racing heart, high BP, clammy skin, dizziness are all well within the realm of possible reactions.

I tend to agree with SophieB. Shock after a trauma is medical condition, and since it would be unusual it would shift focus. I'd also caution you in using fever, because I think it would pull anyone familiar with psychology right out of the story. I know it would pull me out of the story, and unless the story was really good, I would probably put it down. To me it would come off as inaccurate or stretched too far, and it would make me question everything else I read in the story. Psychology being twisted too far pretty much destroyed the TV show "House" for me, because I kept thinking that the medical stuff, which I'm far less familiar with, probably wasn't treated much differently.

I'm sorry if that comes off as harsh, as I don't mean to be harsh. And, I certainly don't know everything about psychology.

Izzie
03-09-2013, 07:30 AM
Mental health worker here.

If we're talking 10ish hours, we're close to Acute Stress Disorder land. Similar criteria to PTSD, big difference being present for 2 days and no longer than 4 weeks. Here's a link to the criteria: http://behavenet.com/acute-stress-disorder

You could do dissociation (not the identity/personality deal), since it can be present in a few different diagnoses. It's scary if you haven't had it before.

Psych symptoms, somatic or "mental," can be tough to write unless you've experienced them yourself. Be careful, otherwise you can end up with the aforementioned House effect, Freudian "all in your head" (My least favorite), or a NAMI boycott.

Menyanthana
03-11-2013, 01:31 AM
A psychological trauma probably affects the immune system, so I think it wouldn't be unrealistic to have her catch a cold, or something like that, resulting in fever.

If you need the fever, that is.

Edit: Sorry. I thought "fever" was "Fieber", but "Fieber" is "high temperature" in English, and I think it's only fever if the temperature is much higher ... so a cold won't work.
Another illness maybe?