Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) describes a psychological and physical condition caused by very frightening or distressing events. Around 30 per cent of people who suffer such psychological trauma go on to develop the problem, NHS figures suggest.
A case recently reported by the BBC highlights how crucial it is for such people to be able to receive help from people with PTSD training. It documented the story of Hugh Forsyth, who spent 11 years serving in the army in the Royal Engineers. During his time with the forces he served in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.
After leaving the army at the age of 27, he found the transition to civilian life difficult. He remarked: “When I left the forces it was like starting again. I didn’t know what to wear when I got up in the morning and I didn’t know how to pay the bills or cope with the simplest of things.”
“All I had known for 11 years was hard work, hard graft – in fear most of the time. My adrenalin was up for that whole period. So afterwards I was a mess. I came home and drank a lot, I was arguing and shouting at my wife and kids. Life was grim,” he added.Eventually, his marriage broke up and he ended up in hospital after taking a overdose of pain medication. But even at this stage, he was not consciously aware of how significant an impact the psychological trauma he had suffered while in the forces was having on his life.
It was only some time later when he visited a pensions officer that the problem was identified. She sent Mr Forsyth’s details to the charity Combat Stress and he was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. After this point, he received treatment from people with PTSD training, spending two-week periods three times a year in a specialist centre.According to the former soldier, who has now remarried, the help he has received has enabled him to put his memories in perspective.