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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 01:14 GMT
'My war injuries were psychological'
Image of Andrew
Andrew had never heard of PTSD before he experienced it
Many people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) go undiagnosed and do not receive the treatment they need, say experts.

New guidelines have been drawn up by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to improve the recognition, screening and treatment of PTSD.

Andrew Murphy, who developed PTSD after serving with the armed forces in Bosnia in 1993, hopes this will mean others get the help that he found it difficult to receive.

Before you are diagnosed you feel you are going mad
Andrew talking about his PTSD

Andrew, who is 38 and from Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, was forced to retire from his career as an Army chef after suffering symptoms including flashbacks, sleeping problems and anxiety.

"My war injuries were psychological. We came under sustained periods of fire from different sides and also witnessed some horrific scenes," he said.

On one occasion, he said, he was travelling back from the headquarters when an artillery shell landed close to where he was.

"The feeling of that - the heat, the noise, hearing it come over first - it was very frightening. I'm back in that vehicle now. It is very vivid.

"I knew I could not go back at the end of my tour."

Fear

Andrew had not heard of PTSD and was confused about what he was feeling and experiencing.

"I was scared, very anxious and afraid. I would jump at loud noises. I was scared even of fireworks afterwards.

"I felt very guilty as well that the other people I served with did not have the same reactions as me."

Two years later he said, he had a complete breakdown, which he blamed on his job at that time working as a civilian catering manager.

He sought help from doctors but suffered a series of relapses.

He said he did not get effective treatment for his PTSD until he found the help of an organisation called Combat Stress.

After his condition was diagnosed, he had sessions of psychological therapies, which he says helped him to cope.

"Living with PTSD is incredibly difficult," he said.

"Before you are diagnosed you feel you are going mad. It can be very isolating and lonely.

"I'm now rebuilding my life. I don't think anyone can be 100% cured. It is more a case of understanding what PTSD is and how you can help accept who you are now, because you are not the same person as you were before.

"It's about teaching yourself not to focus on the negative aspects."

He said he decided to set up a website to provide information and support to other people who might have gone through similar experiences to himself.

He is hopeful that the new guidelines will make a big difference.

"Treatment has been patchy across the UK, but these guidelines will finally make care and treatment for PTSD sufferers more balanced and given clear guidance to GPs and other health professionals as to how to treat PTSD," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
20 Dec 00 |  Medical notes


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