Combat Stress and Napier University to launch study on treatment for Complex PTSD

They have received £300k of funding.

Veteran mental health charity Combat Stress and Edinburgh Napier University will launch a new study into Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).

They have received £304,494 from the Forces in Mind Trust for a joint pilot study on a treatment programme for veterans with the condition.

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The project has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and is due to begin in January 21, lasting 28 months.

It comes as research published by Combat Stress and the university showed veterans are more likely to develop CPTSD than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Of those veterans who met the criteria for either condition, 57 percent reported symptoms of CPTSD, compared to 14 percent for PTSD.

The research, also funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, found that veterans with CPTSD take longer to seek professional and medical support compared to those with PTSD.

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Barriers to help-seeking include stigma, feeling unworthy of treatment, and concerns about confidentiality being maintained.

The research suggested that both conditions be routinely screened to increase early detection and appropriate support given and that health care professionals be aware of the specialist veteran health services in their area so they can refer those with CPTSD.

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Those with CPTSD experience many of the main symptoms of PTSD, which can include flashbacks, irritability or aggressive behaviour, disturbed sleep and lack of trust.

CPTSD is also associated with additional symptoms including difficulty in regulating emotions, feeling negatively about themselves, problems relating to others and feelings of emptiness or worthlessness.

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Several factors increase the likelihood of suffering from CPTSD, including a history of childhood trauma and experience of a combat role.

Professor Thanos Karatzias, Professor of Mental Health at Edinburgh Napier and study author, said: “This work confirms that many veterans in clinical services suffer from CPTSD.

“An interplay of combat experiences and childhood difficulties seem to play a key role in the development of those symptoms. This is a very important step in helping us understand how to best support people with CPTSD and suggests that trauma therapies in veterans should address not only combat experiences but also childhood adverse life experiences.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive at Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This is a much-needed study which demonstrates significant potential to effect positive change in the ex-Service community. Given that CPTSD is actually more common among ex-Service personnel than PTSD, it is vital that it becomes better understood, especially by service providers.”

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Dr Dominic Murphy, Head of Research at Combat Stress, said: “Our data supports what we see clinically, namely that help-seeking veterans are more likely to be presenting with more complex symptoms of PTSD, often alongside a range of other difficulties.

“This piece of research has helped us better understand the needs of this vulnerable group and we hope will provide a stepping-stone to developing interventions to better meet their needs.”

“The research, published today, was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust which is also funding the pilot study. This project is delayed due to COVID-19 and will commence in January 2021. It is expected to last 28 months.”

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