Living with PTSD
PTSD is a psychiatric condition caused by exposure to traumatic events.
We act for many service personnel who suffer with PTSD. Some experience it whilst on operational tour, but many don’t experience symptoms until years afterwards.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- hypervigilance (being constantly aware and on edge)
Therapy and Medication
PTSD should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist, who will have to consider what treatment will be best. There are various forms of treatment available:
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) – This involves talking to a therapist, exploring thought patterns, and identifying harmful or unhelpful thoughts. This treatment usually consists of weekly sessions, lasting about an hour each. The aim is to help PTSD sufferers counter their recurring thoughts and move on from the trauma. The amount of sessions will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. It is not unusual for this treatment to last for many months.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprogramming) – This therapy was developed specifically to treat PTSD sufferers. During a session of EMDR the therapist will ask the patient to recount the trauma whilst introducing simple stimulus, for example eye or finger movements, and in doing so ‘reprogramme’ the brain into managing their thought patterns.
- Medication – Whether and what medication is prescribed will normally depend on the nature and severity of the patient’s symptoms.
There are also a number of charities available which use alternative therapies to help sufferers.
The rehabilitation plan will vary from person to person, and will usually involve a mixture of the treatments mentioned above. Good practice will be for the treating psychiatrist to agree the rehabilitation plan with the patient and review it regularly.
The impact on life and work
PTSD can be a chronic mental health issue that can cause devastation to the working and family lives of service personnel.
Evidence suggests that early intervention will almost always result in a better outcome for sufferers, so it is important to seek help as soon as symptoms emerge.
We often receive complaints from service personnel about their medical treatment, some are concerned that their symptoms were not picked up sooner by their military doctors, or that they were encouraged to ‘soldier on’ despite their symptoms. If you have not received the diagnosis or treatment you need, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.
I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. If you suffer from the symptoms of PTSD, you should make an appointment with your GP, to discuss your concerns.
Myself and my colleagues in the military team have also written about PTSD claims:
My article on WriteYou
Hannah Swarbrick’s blog on PTSD
Ahmed Al-Nahhas’s article on hurdle PTSD claims