Post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur following a traumatic event. It is characterised by symptoms of re‐experiencing the trauma (in the form of nightmares, flashbacks and distressing thoughts), avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, negative alterations in thoughts and mood, and symptoms of hyper‐arousal (feeling on edge, being easily startled, feeling angry, having difficulties sleeping, and problems concentrating).
Previous reviews have supported the use of individual trauma‐focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TFCBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of PTSD. TFCBT is a variant of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which includes a number of techniques to help a person overcome a traumatic event. It is a combination of cognitive therapy aimed at changing the way a person thinks, and behavioural therapy, which aims to change the way a person acts. TFCBT helps an individual come to terms with a trauma through exposure to memories of the event. EMDR is a psychological therapy, which aims to help a person reprocess their memories of a traumatic event. The therapy involves bringing distressing trauma‐related images, beliefs, and bodily sensations to mind, whilst the therapist guides eye movements from side to side. More positive views of the trauma memories are identified, with the aim of replacing the ones that are causing problems.
TFCBT and EMDR are currently recommended as the treatments of choice by guidelines such as those published by the United Kingdom’s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).