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What is a shock?

A person goes under a mental shock when he or she experiences some disturbing, frightening, or traumatic events like the loss of a loved one. A person who is in shock experiences long-term reactions like flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, and strained relationships.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms of a shock are:

  • Loss of memory
  • Getting startled easily
  • Extreme alertness and looking for warnings of potential danger
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Terrifying memories
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Denial
  • Changes in coping ability
  • Visual images of the event

What are the main causes?

The main causes of a mental shock are:

  • Natural disasters
  • Domestic and workplace violence
  • Terrorism
  • Witnessing a death or other traumatic event
  • Imprisonment
  • Severe injury or illness

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A mental health doctor conducts a physical examination, refers the medical history and notes down the symptoms observed in the patient with shock.

The following treatments are used to treat mental shock:

  • Cognitive restructuring: This therapy helps people accept and forget the bad memories to ward off the feelings of shame and guilt.
  • Psychotherapy: Also known by the term talk therapy, psychotherapy includes multiple sessions that last from 6 to 12 weeks or longer. These sessions are conducted in the presence of a mental health provider. The support from friends and family received with the help of this therapy helps induce the feelings of trust, confidence and emotions in a person with shock.
  • Exposure therapy: This therapy helps people control their fears and worries. Writing and imagination are some of the tools used in this therapy.
  • Medications:
  • Antidepressants to control the symptoms of getting angry, worrying, feeling sad and emotional numbness
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Relaxation techniques: Techniques like breathing exercises, practising meditation and yoga, and following a routine of regular exercising provides mental relaxation and calmness to a person in mental shock.
  1. Medicines for Shock


  1. National Institute of Mental Health [Internet] Bethesda, MD; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  2. American Psychological Association [internet] St. NE, Washington, DC. Trauma.
  3. Jonathan E. Sherin. Post-traumatic stress disorder: the neurobiological impact of psychological trauma. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2011 Sep; 13(3): 263–278. PMID: 22034143
  4. National Institute of Mental Health [Internet] Bethesda, MD; Treatments and Therapies. National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  5. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Shock.

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