(Picture: Getty)A new study has found that one in 13 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder by the age of 18.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events.
Someone with the diagnosis will often relive the trauma through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.
Insomnia is a massive problem within PTSD, and so is finding it difficult to concentrate.
It becomes a disorder when the symptoms are severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on a person’s life.
The recent findings came about after more than 2,000 18-year-olds from England and Wales were studied. It was found that a third had experienced trauma in childhood.
A quarter of these participants went on to develop PTSD.
Researchers say the findings should act as a ‘wake-up call’ in regards to young people needing better mental health care.
The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found slightly more than half of those who had had PTSD had also experienced a major depressive episode and one in five had attempted suicide.
But only the same proportion – one in five – had been seen by a mental health professional in the past year.
The participants were judged on whether they suffered with the following symptoms:
– Reliving traumatic events through distressing memories or nightmares
– Avoiding anything reminding them of their trauma
– Feelings of guilt, isolation or detachment, irritability, impulsivity or difficulty concentrating
Senior researcher Prof Andrea Danese, from the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: ‘Our findings should serve as a wake-up call.
‘Childhood trauma is a public-health concern – yet trauma-related disorders often go unnoticed.
‘Young people with PTSD are falling through the gaps in care and there is a pressing need for better access to mental health services.’
Prof Danese said people should not be ‘alarmed’ by the study’s findings and it was normal to have some psychological symptoms after trauma.
However, in the vast majority of cases, PTSD wouldn’t develop and the symptoms would stop over a matter of days or weeks.
PTSD is questioned if children and young people had the symptoms for over a month.
Dr Tim Dalgleish, from the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the research, said the results of the ‘landmark study’ were ‘sobering’.
He said: ‘Of particular concern is the relatively small proportion of affected youth who go on to access formal support or mental health services and the findings are a further wake-up call that service provision in the UK for children and adolescents dealing with the aftermath of trauma is woefully inadequate.’
More: Mental health
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman added: ‘The NHS Long Term Plan has committed to prioritising increasing the funding for children and young people’s mental health services faster than all other funding.
‘As a result, 345,000 more children and young people have access to mental health services and support in schools and colleges, young adults will receive better support until the age of 25 and crisis care will be provided through NHS 111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’
If you or a loved one think you may be suffering with PTSD, it is important to contact your GP as soon as possible so that they can refer you for help.
If you find yourself struggling and need to talk, call Samaritans on 116 123.
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