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Can Animals Experience PTSD Like Humans Do?

Posted by Ask Emily on August 12, 2018 at 1:10 PM

Some of you may have seen and/or followed the story recently out of Seattle, Washington where an Orca Whale Calf died and its mother carried it for over two weeks before letting go. This story caught the attention of millions around the world for a varity of reasons. PTSD can happen in many different circumstances and impact people in many different ways, but how many of us have really thought about PTSD in Animals? Until watching this Orca with her calf, I personally had never given that idea much thought, but it makes total sense now tat I have been following the story since it started in Seattle. It was sad and puzzling listening to the researchers and people following this mother and her deceased baby and how they were so eager to, "do something", but they didn't know what to do. This has really got me thinking about PTSD and Mental Health and what a human mother goes through during the grieving process after loosing her baby vs. what an animal goes through after loosing her baby. When a human mother looses a baby, when she is ready to, she can verbally express what she is going through.  When an animal mother experiences this, she can express it in her own time and in her own way to other animals, but the way she might display it to humans, humans might have a hard time understanding. When a human see's an animal carrying its deceased baby especially when it has been weeks since the babies passing, their immediate response is, "What do we need to do?". Some human mother's who have experienced this might say, "Let the poor mother grieve in her own way and in her own time." Another piece to this is that animals can't be medicated like human's can, so they might have a more difficult time dealing with the situation and who are we to put a time limit on something like that if we can't relate to what they are experiencing. The more I think about what to write in this post, the more sympathy I have for human's who experience PTSD.  We need to be showing more patience and compassion.  It is not necessarily our job to understand, but to show compassion to those who are personally experiencing PTSD.  Even if the person who is trying to help has experienced their own PTSD, no PTSD is exactly the same.  As long as we make sure that the person knows that they are safe, are cared about and they are not alone, that could be better than anything else that anyone else tries to offer the person and the same thing can and should be said for animals. As long as we observe the situation to ensure the safety of all involved, we shoud only intervene if there is a true and definite safety threat, but as for what was happening with the Orca, she was not harming anyone by her actions, she was simply trying to show that she was grieving the loss and there should be nothing wrong with that.

Categories: Disabilities and Special Needs, Coping Skills, Parenting Coping Skills

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