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Therapy should be offered to trauma sufferers to prevent PTSD, says NICE

People who have been through traumatic experiences should be offered therapy within one month to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a leading health institute has said.

New guidelines from executive body NICE has said adults who are at risk of PTSD should be granted cognitive-behavioural therapy within a month of experiencing a stressful event.

The updated recommendations from NICE ask practitioners to take into account that PTSD sufferers may have several complex problems, such as depression, and that symptoms may present themselves in “unusual ways.”

“In most cases where a person has both PTSD and depression, treating PTSD successfully will, as a consequence, improve the depression,” NICE added.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with catastrophic, frightening, or stressful events. One in four people who experience one of these situations will develop PTSD-like symptoms such as vivid flashbacks, increased anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.

NICE’s guidelines said experiences such as gender reassignment, illegal immigration, and homelessness can trigger the disorder. Around 10,000 women a year develop PTSD following a difficult birth.

Professor Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at NICE, said: “PTSD is a treatable condition, but the pain of revisiting past events can prevent people seeking the help they need.

“We have updated our guidance to make sure that PTSD is managed as early as possible and give advice on coordinating the complex needs that are often associated with this condition.”

Many PTSD sufferers can struggle to engage and express themselves in therapy. NICE says that alternative methods of communication should be considered, such as text message and video.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious anxiety disorder that can cause a huge amount of distress to patients, as well as their family and friends.

Prof Stokes-Lampard added getting treatment quickly was important, but warned that access to such services is “patchy.”

 “GPs are often the first port of call for patients struggling with mental health problems and we understand the debilitating impact something like PTSD can have on a person’s life,” she said.

The draft recommendations will be available for consultation until the 23 July.



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