PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. The Royal College of Psychiatrists said latest estimates by the NHS Strategy Unit suggest there could be 230,000 new referrals between 2020-21 and 2022-23. In a poll of intensive care staff working during the first wave of the pandemic, two in five reported symptoms of PTSD. That is more than twice the rate found among military veterans with recent combat experience, the college said.
Separate research found 35 per cent of Covid patients put on ventilators suffer PTSD.
One such patient, Dee, 52, said: “I experienced severe anxiety about my breathing problems.
“This included intrusive visions of staff in PPE suits taking me to hospital.”
Professor Neil Greenberg, editor of the college’s new online resource for PTSD patients, said: “It’s a common misunderstanding that only people in the Armed Forces can develop PTSD.
“Anyone exposed to a traumatic event is at risk. If left untreated it can ruin the lives of those who suffer from it.”
He added NHS staff “are at increased risk as a result of this unprecedented crisis”.
Danny Mortimer, of the NHS Confederation, said: “Healthcare leaders are keenly aware of how important it is to offer as much support as possible to a tired and exhausted workforce.”
The college’s PTSD tool is at www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/post-traumatic-stress-disorder