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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What do I do first to help my son?

    My son is suffering from post traumatic stress, he is on antidepressants which are helping but he also has a problem with alcohol and this causes anger and he has cut himself a couple of times, which do I treat first?
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  • Lucy Appadoo

    Counsellor

    I am a Registered Counsellor and Wellness Coach who specialises in grief and loss, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger management, and stress management. I have … View Profile

    First of all, you as a mother cannot treat your son but you can guide and support him at this time. If there is a risk of your son cutting himself again, then it is advised that you link him in with a psychiatrist, if he isn't already linked in. Suicide risk can be assessed. The risk of self-harm can be assessed by a psychiatrist and your son can learn a range of coping strategies to manage his emotional distress. You can identify triggers of self-harm, from the previous occasions when he cut himself. What was going on in his mind? What memory did  your son experience prior to cutting himself previously? You can encourage him to attend intensive rehabilitation for his alcohol intake and he can simultaneously work on the post traumatic stress. Post traumatic stress is usually aimed towards depression, so he needs to be emotionally stable before addressing any traumatic memories. Counselors or psychologists could assist with this.

    You could encourage your son to minimize his drinking of alcohol. Perhaps encourage your son to find ways to relax, to engage in hobbies or interests, to exercise and maintain social contact. You could reduce his access to alcohol and limit his exposure to alcohol-filled environments. It's also handy to have crisis contacts nearby, should your son attempt to cut himself again. Perhaps encourage your son to use a cream or ointment, which can still serve as a distraction, like the external pain of cutting, to the inner pain.

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