Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Clinical Review

Post-traumatic stress disorder

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 26 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6161

Rapid Response:

Re: Post-traumatic stress disorder; hidden victims, effective safe treatment ?

This clear and informative clinical review may alert more GPs to the hidden horrors that often lie, buried for decades beneath the fearful silence that so often follows the abuse of young children. Uncovering those memories in a gentle and non judgmental way will sometimes provide a very therapeutic beginning, to what may become a healing process.
Difficult, in these days of brief consultations.

There is also a large group of people with severe PTSD, whose numbers will surely increase, and whose awareness of, and whose ability to contact, sources of NHS help, is in itself a serious concern.
Many asylum seekers, men and women, have histories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse that challenge the equanimity of a listener.
Are they numbered in thousands, or tens of thousands, in the UK ?

The authors remark “.. some evidence suggests that high levels of social support are perceived as protective.“ The unintended irony of this observation is clear to those who are familiar with the responses that asylum seekers often receive at Home Office interviews, and from Immigration Tribunals.
Support is available to asylum seekers from voluntary groups who work under the umbrella of the Cities of Sanctuary movement, and from NGOs like Freedom from Torture and Medical Justice.

What of treatment in those parts of the UK where these NGOs have no presence, and where the psychiatric service is severely stretched, and talking therapies are difficult to access?

The authors discuss the evidence for different treatment modalities.
As they point out, seldom do more than 50% of sufferers show a sustained improvement.

In these days when the evidence, or perceived lack of it, of clinical trials allows treatments which appear safe and effective when used by bona fide colleagues, to be summarily dismissed by those with closed minds, it still remains the duty of caring doctors to examine any approach that seems to be safe and effective.

We have been seeing about eighty asylum seekers and their families, for homeopathic assessment and treatment. Some have made dramatic recoveries from very dark places. Nearly all have been helped. No one is harmed.
Our experience is anecdotal, but it reflects the experience of many homeopaths in the west, and in developing countries. (1) We suggest to colleagues in primary care who encounter damaged asylum seekers, and other PTSD patients, in areas where psychiatric services are limited, or when there has been a poor response to conventional approaches, that they should consider this option.

1 Trauma. Spectrum ofHomeopathy, No 1/ 2014. Narayana Verlag. ISSN 1869-3091

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 December 2015
Noel Thomas
retd/locum GP
Alina Ascari, RSHom
Bon-y-Garn, Maesteg, Wales CF34 9AL