If you have PTSD, you may experience symptoms like:
- feeling ‘on-guard’
- avoiding situations or things that remind you of the traumatic event
- re-living the experience over again in flashbacks or nightmares
- having feelings of anger, guilt and shame
- physical sensations like sweating, feeling sick or trembling
In PTSD, these symptoms last for more than a month after a traumatic event or experience and interfere with your daily activities.
If your symptoms began after a recent traumatic event, and aren’t too severe, you may be offered ‘watchful waiting’ as an initial treatment plan. This is because your symptoms may stop without needing treatment. PTSD will only be diagnosed if your symptoms carry on for more than four weeks.
For many people, treatment will be needed. With treatment, around 1 in 2 people with PTSD will see their symptoms ease significantly. Be aware that this can take several years. But it can take much longer to improve without treatment. Even with treatment, PTSD is a life-long condition for some people.
The Government’s Equality Act, 2010, makes it illegal to discriminate against people with a disability. A person has a disability if:
- they have a physical or mental impairment
- the impairment has a ‘substantial and long-term effect’ on their ability to carry out daily activities
PTSD is listed in the Act as a mental health condition that can cause such a mental impairment. You can find out more about disability discrimination and mental health from the Mind website (see our section ‘other helpful websites’ for contact details). Your GP practice may also be able to help.
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- Post-traumatic stress disorder. BMJ Best practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last reviewed December 2021
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – what is it? Patient information from BMJ. BMJ Best practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last published January 2021
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: what treatments work? Patient information from BMJ. BMJ Best practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last published January 2021
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk, last revised October 2020
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), December 2018. www.nice.org.uk
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Royal College of Psychiatrists. rcpsych.ac.uk, accessed May 2019
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. Mind. mind.org.uk, published January 2021
- Equality Act 2010: Guidance. Office for Disability Issues, 2010. Gov.uk
- Personal communication, Dr Naomi Humber, Clinical Psychologist, March 2022
Reviewed by Dr Kristina Routh, Freelance Health Editor, March 2022
Expert reviewer, Dr Naomi Humber, Clinical Psychologist
Next review due March 2025