Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NICE consults on updated guidance to help prevent and manage PTSD

  • Comment

Therapy should be offered to patients within a month of a traumatic event to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to draft guidance, with a new focus on early treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is updating its guidance on the management of PTSD for the first time since the original was published in 2005.

“We have updated our guidance to make sure that PTSD is managed as early as possible”

Mark Baker

Its draft update has recommended that patients who experience traumatic events and present symptoms of PTSD should be offered trauma-focused therapy within one month.

Adults who are at risk of PTSD should be referred for individualised cognitive-behavioural therapy within a month of experiencing a traumatic event, the draft said.

As well as the option of individual therapy, it said children could also be considered for group therapy after shared trauma to reduce the risk of developing PTSD.

In addition, if trauma-focused therapy was unsuccessful, children aged seven to 17 years could be offered eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy after three months.

However, it said psychological debriefing, which aims to help a person find meaning after a stressful event, should not be offered to adults or children, as it was potentially harmful.

The new recommendation to offer therapy within a month, if finalised after consultation, would replace a “watch and wait” approach for mild PTSD symptoms in the original 2005 guideline.

It states that, where symptoms are mild and have been present for less than four weeks after the trauma, watchful waiting should be considered, with a follow-up contact within one month.

But trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy should be offered to those with severe post-traumatic symptoms or with severe PTSD in the first month after the traumatic event, it says.

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.

Mark Baker

Mark Baker

Mark Baker

“We have updated our guidance to make sure that PTSD is managed as early as possible and give advice on co-ordinating the complex needs that are often associated with this condition,” he said.

The new recommendations ask practitioners to take into account that people with PTSD may have additional problems such as depression and symptoms may present themselves in unusual ways.

In most cases where a person has both PTSD and depression, treating PTSD successfully will, as a consequence, improve the depression, said the draft guidance.

However, it noted that PTSD suffers may struggle to engage in therapy. NICE suggested that alternative methods of communication should be considered for example, text messages and video.

The guidelines authors also acknowledged that a range of situations that could be related to PTSD, including gender reassignment, homelessness and illegal immigration.

The draft recommendations will be available for consultation until the 23 July, with final guidance expected to be published in December.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.