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PTSD can affect a third of people involved in terror attacks

TRAUMATIC: PTSD can develop after being involved in, or witnessing, a traumatic, stressful or frightening event

A PSYCHOLOGIST is urging people to look out for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as research suggests that the anxiety disorder can affect more than a third of people involved in a terror attack.

PTSD can develop after being involved in, or witnessing, a traumatic, stressful or frightening event. In the last four months there have been four terror attacks in the UK, and it is highly likely that some victims will experience PTSD.

Someone with PTSD relives the event through nightmares and flashbacks and they may also experience feelings of isolation and find it hard to sleep and concentrate. It is normal to experience these symptoms for a short while after a traumatic event. However, if someone has these symptoms for longer than three months, or if the symptoms have a significant impact on the person’s day to day life, then encourage them to seek support.

Dr Jennifer Hall, a Clinical Psychologist at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, said: “PTSD is awful, and people shouldn’t have to cope alone. It’s debilitating, makes you feel on edge, and gives you nightmares. People will struggle to sleep and will struggle to think about anything else. Anyone who has been through, or is going through PTSD, will feel very vulnerable and confused and should seek support from their GP.

“Access as much support as you can, speak to family and friends and do what makes you feel good. If there are any activities you enjoy doing, don’t stop doing them – particularly activities that make you feel a sense of achievement afterwards. These things can help your symptoms to improve.”

Although many people experience a traumatic event and recover well, it is estimated that 4.4% of the UK population suffers with PTSD. There are particular kinds of traumatic events that increase the likelihood of PTSD with between 33 to 39% of direct victims of a terror attack suffering from the disorder.

Jennifer, who works as part of the Enfield Complex Care Team, added: “If someone you know has been through any kind of traumatic event and they seem withdrawn, isolated or are having difficulties sleeping, please encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Let them know a bit about PTSD and try and persuade them to do the activities they love. Persuade them to go out and work or to connect with the community. It can make it more difficult to recover if someone remains isolated.

“We hear time and time again the misconceptions surrounding PTSD. For example, people may wrongly assume that people can just forget about it or that they can get over it and move on. But having PTSD isn't a choice. If a loved one has been in a traumatic event and they are feeling anxious just remember that how they are feeling is out of their control.”

If you’re concerned about PTSD please speak to your GP who can advise you on the different PTSD services available in your area.

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