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Post-traumatic stress disorder

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects around five per cent of men and around 10 per cent of women at some point in their lives. It starts after a particularly traumatic event such as a natural disaster, violence, war or abuse. It often starts within a few weeks of the traumatic event but sometimes the symptoms don't show for months or even years after the triggering event.

If you have PTSD you may relive the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares. These images and feelings can be very intense and can feel just as scary as when the event actually happened. Because of the flashbacks and nightmares, you may feel more anxious and 'on edge' throughout the day. You may not be able to sleep well, and you may become irritable, depressed or angry. Sometimes the fear caused by PTSD can cause physical symptoms like stomach pain or headaches. Some people with PTSD may try to drink or use drugs to make themselves feel better, but this can often make matters worse.

If you think you or someone you know might be suffering with PTSD you should make an appointment with your GP to discuss what your treatment options are.

There are a number of different things that can help PTSD. In some cases, where the symptoms haven't been happening for a long time, a doctor may advise that you wait and carefully monitor your symptoms to see if they improve in time. You will need a follow-up appointment in a month to speak to your doctor about how your symptoms are.

If your symptoms aren't resolving on their own with time, you might need talking therapy (such as counselling) or cognitive-behavioural therapy

There are also a number of medications which may help with your symptoms. 


You can find more information on PTSD on the NHS Choices website.

Mind is a charity aimed at helping those with PTSD and other psychological problems. Their website for your local area may also provide you with some useful resources and events:

And Mind also host

  • the Elefriends online forum  - Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself, a safe place to listen, share and be heard. Whether you're feeling good right now, or really low, it's a safe place to share experiences and listen to others.  
  • and the Friends in Need peer support group -  a support and wellbeing community, for people affected by depression and other mental health problems, which offers support and activities.

The Go 4 Mental Health Directory developed by local residents of the three boroughs with mental health problems, offers useful information about the local mental health services in your area as well as information about other community activities which you may want to take part in.

The Mental Health Foundation provides information and advice on living with PTSD.

The Medical Foundation for the care of victims of torture offers emotional and physical support for those who have suffered torture.
The Refugee Support Centre offers counselling and psychotherapy services for refugees under 65. Many different languages are spoken - tel 020 7820 3606.

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South West London and St Georges NHS have produced an easy-to-read leaflet about post-traumatic stress disorder which may particularly useful for people with learning disabilities.

The Counselling Directory offers:-

  • A nationwide database of counsellors and psychotherapists who are members of a recognised professional body.
  • A detailed library of fact-sheets featuring information about how counselling might be able to help with what's worrying you
  • types of therapy section that explains the different models of counselling and psychotherapy that are used by practitioners.

Hammersmith & Fulham

Richmond Fellowship Employment and Well-being service in Hammersmith & Fulham currently offer the following mental health wellbeing services - befriending, community groups and activities and a peer support volunteer service
Tel: 03300 083 808