lady sat on floor with head in her hands

New mental health disorder comes to light across UK

Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder (PTED) bares some similarities to PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is currently recognised in the USA and across some parts of Europe but until recently has not been widely recognised within the UK.

The disorder focuses on the embitterment of an individual after a ‘traumatic life-changing experience’ such as job loss, divorce and conflict with family and friends.

PTED does not conform to the normal criteria for PTSD and other traumatic disorders despite having similar symptoms. Remorse, anger, frustration and helplessness are all symptoms of PTED. People suffering from the disorder can often become obsessed with the events that have happened to them and can refuse to believe they hold any responsibility within it.

Dr Michael Linden, a German psychiatrist, conducted a study in 2009 into the emotions which surround PTED.  He states that the disorder is ‘one step more complex than anger, They’re angry plus helpless. PTED patients might not fit the formal criteria for PTSD and can be clinically distinguished from it, prompting the description of this new and very separate health disorder’.

People living with PTED can find it difficult to function normally in day-to-day life. Like people suffering from other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, they can withdraw themselves from society and social settings and become reclusive.

In extreme cases, if left untreated, sufferers can turn to self -harm and suicide. In 2020, nearly five-thousand people died by suicide in the UK.  

PTED can often be mistaken for ‘work-related stress’ which sees more than 800,000 people signed off from work duties each year. Christine Pratt, Founder of The National bullying Helpline claims this term is ‘vague and unhelpful’ and is not a sufficient description of the true emotions being felt y that individual.

Christine Pratt says; ‘Clearly, PTED is all embracing and life-changing. Embitterment needs to be seen as a unique emotion in its own right. It is an extremely serious and debilitating mental illness. These people are trapped in the past, unable to move on with their lives. Anti-depressants and mediation is not the answer.’

The National Bullying Helpline offers advice and guidance on bullying in various areas of life. They hope that the term ‘work-related stress’ can be replaced with something more in depth and comprehensive that will allow those suffering from it to get help and recover from it. Pratt says ‘the embittered mind does not compromise. The embittered mind blames others for causing their ill health. Effective PTED therapy is about coaching and retraining the mind.’

A pilot study found that cognitive behavioural therapy showed positive changes to PTED sufferer’s condition. The use of ‘wisdom therapy/coaching’ allows the individual to alter their view of the world, themselves, of others and the future, therefore changing their outlook on life as a whole.

Christine Pratt added, ‘when this syndrome is fully recognised and understood by healthcare professionals in the UK, I believe that we can save lives’,

NHE March/April 2024

NHE March/April 2024

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