Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition characterised by recurring distressing memories, flashbacks and other symptoms after suffering or witnessing a traumatic event. It can develop after being involved in, or witnessing, a serious trauma.
PTSD can develop immediately after a traumatic event or sometimes months or even years after it. Events that have been shown to cause PTSD include terrorist attacks, military combat, violent personal attacks and serious road accidents.
People with certain risk factors may be more likely to develop PTSD, including those who:
- have suffered from mental health issues in the past or have mental illness in their family;
- have experienced other trauma earlier in life;
- lack a good support system of friends and family.
Certain treatments have been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD, including:
- watchful waiting: closely monitoring symptoms to assess whether they improve or get worse;
- psychological treatment such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR);
- medication in the form of antidepressants.
Many of the common symptoms associated with PTSD (e.g. sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, irritability or outbursts of anger) can have a significant impact on sufferers’ lives including their personal relationships and their ability to manage their workloads and cope with social interactions at work. It is crucial that sufferers of PTSD are diagnosed in order that the appropriate treatment can be offered.
Are you an employer who is unsure how to support an employee with PTSD, someone who is suffering from PTSD and is concerned about the effect it may be having on your ability to work, or perhaps a GP who needs guidance on the effect a patient’s PTSD might be having on them in the workplace? If so, visit the Fit for Work website where you can ask a question or take part in live chat with one of our occupational health professionals, find information in the form of guides and blogs, or call the free Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235 for help with this or any other work-related health issue.