Post-traumatic stress disorder in doctors
Doctors have an increased risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder. Raj Persuad considers the reasons why and describes the treatments available
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often elicited when a person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event which entailed actual or threatened death or injury or a threat to the physical integrity of themselves or others.
By the very nature of their profession, doctors, like firefighters and police officers, are much more likely to encounter traumatic events and experiences than most other professionals. While some doctors, such as those in the armed forces, accident and emergency medicine, or acute specialties, are even more likely to witness trauma, no branch of medicine will escape an encounter sooner or later with incidents of an emotional or shocking nature beyond the norm.
Doctors witnessing a traumatic event in the casualty department, such as a patient brought in severely injured from a catastrophic industrial injury or a gun fight, usually have their professional role to fall back on to help them. They