Intended for healthcare professionals


Coping with the aftermath of trauma

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 05 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1038
  1. Berthold P R Gersons, professor of psychiatry (,
  2. Miranda Olff, associate professor of psychotraumatology
  1. Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, 1105 BC Amsterdam, Netherlands

    NICE recommends psychological therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder

    Adequate survival behaviour is a crucial “gift of nature.” Humans have been fairly successful in reducing the threat to life. Nevertheless, crossing a street or driving a car requires increased alertness in order to survive. Natural disasters such as the recent tsunami and man-made disasters such as war, terrorist attacks, killing, robbing, sexual and physical abuse, and plane crashes show how vulnerable we are. After surviving such an event, people need basics—food, shelter, medical care, and consolation. Nowadays psychological care has been added to this list of basic needs for some people.

    Doctors ought to know whether and when psychological help is necessary. The new guideline on managing post-traumatic stress disorder in primary and secondary care from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) excellently summarises the experiences of sufferers and carers and provides evidence and advice on interventions for adults and children.1 The guideline gives special attention to “disaster planning”; the needs of ex-military personnel, victims of domestic violence, and refugees and asylum seekers; …

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