1 in 13 young British people have PTSD. Here’s why
Shell shock. Combat stress. Battle fatigue. Soldier’s heart. These are just some of the former names for the condition we now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those names all have something in common – they make a direct connection between armed conflict and high levels of stress.
It’s small wonder then that PTSD is often thought of as something that only affects armed services personnel. But that is an unfortunate misconception that may be keeping some PTSD sufferers from the support that could help them recover.
Research published in Lancet Psychiatry highlights just how inaccurate this assumed military connection is. It finds that one in 13 children and young people in the UK will suffer from PTSD at some point. That’s roughly equivalent to conclusions drawn by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which says as many as 6% of boys and 15% of girls who have experienced trauma will go on to suffer from PTSD.
Signs of PTSD include:
- Feeling distracted, irritable or acting impulsively
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Plagued by memories of distressing and traumatic events
- Ruminating and reliving the event or suffering from nightmares
- Feelings of guilt or a sense of detachment
- Deliberately avoiding situations that might trigger reminders
The ripple effect
Percentages like those are all very well but you may be wondering just how common PTSD is and how someone ends up as a sufferer?
According to the American Psychiatric Association: “PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”
In the scheme of things, events like terrorist attacks are relatively rare, whereas experiencing a physical or sexual assault or witnessing a serious accident are more prevalent. And that word “witnessing” has broad connotations. A 2007 academic report in the UK looked for evidence of PTSD in a control group of children in London who had seen footage of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. It found that as many as 14.5% of children reported symptoms of PTSD – intrusive thoughts, fear for their safety and a preoccupation with the images they’d seen were all present 3,500 miles away from the scene of the attack.
The reason why one in 13 young Brits suffer from PTSD would seem to be that it is a far more common condition than may have been thought and the ways in which traumatic events can affect people are now far more prevalent. There are also reports of moderators working for social media companies such as Facebook, exhibiting signs of PTSD as a result of the distressing content they have to watch as part of their job.
This article first appeared on the World Economic Forum.
Feature image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/th/users/mirceaianc-11873433/