Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after very stressful events.

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What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that you may develop after being involved in, or witnessing, traumatic events.

When you experience something that you find traumatic, you may potentially develop symptoms associated with PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms can generally include the following:

  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Pain, numbness, trembling.
  • Irritability.
  • Lack of concentration.

Specifically, healthcare workers who are involved in treating patients with COVID-19 may experience:

  • Physical strain of wearing protective equipment that can lead to dehydration and exhaustion.
  • Physical isolation from friends, family and colleagues.
  • Constant heightened awareness and vigilance regarding infection-control procedures.
  • Stress caused by the inner conflict of competing needs and demands of healthcare services.
  • Higher mortality rates in COVID-19 compared with other diseases and conditions.

Many people may find that their symptoms disappear within a few weeks, but if they last longer than a month, or you have concerns about yourself or a colleague, it may be worth speaking to a GP for advice. 

Further PTSD resources

Last updated: 11 May 2020

Last reviewed: