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NICE guidance calls for prompt access to therapy to prevent PTSD

Monday 25th June 2018
New NICE guidance has called for people at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder to be offered therapy within one month.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued new draft guidance designed to ensure that people at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are given the support they need as soon as possible.

Updated guidelines from the regulator have recommended that adults who have experienced trauma and are therefore at risk of developing PTSD should be offered individualised cognitive behavioural therapy within a month of the stressful event.

It was also recommended that children be considered for group therapy after shared trauma to reduce their risk of PTSD, with the guidance also asking practitioners to take into account that PTSD sufferers may have additional problems such as depression, meaning symptoms may present themselves in unusual ways.

Since many PTSD sufferers often struggle to engage with therapy, NICE has indicated that alternative methods of communication should be considered, such as text messages and video. Eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy is another example of an alternative treatment option that can be offered to children after three months, using back-and-forth eye movements to restructure a person's memories about an event.

Professor Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at NICE, said: "PTSD is a treatable condition, but the pain of revisiting past events can prevent people seeking the help they need.

"We have updated our guidance to make sure that PTSD is managed as early as possible and give advice on coordinating the complex needs that are often associated with this condition."

It is estimated that around one-quarter of people who experience catastrophic, frightening or stressful events will develop PTSD-related symptoms, including vivid flashbacks, increased anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

If approved and finalised, the new guidelines will replace the current NICE PTSD guidelines that have been in place since 2005.

Written by Angela Newbury

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