What is post-traumatic stress disorder? Mayor of London Sadiq Khan reveals he has PTSD

·3-min read
Sadiq Khan has said he has been affected by cumulative PTSD  (ES Composite)
Sadiq Khan has said he has been affected by cumulative PTSD (ES Composite)

The Mayor of London has said he is affected by post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] after dealing with regular death threats, disasters, and terror attacks.

Sadiq Khan told the Guardian that, while he is not going through the same level of trauma as refugees or those involved in war, he is affected by mental trauma.

When asked if he suffered from PTSD, Mr Khan said: “Without a doubt. One of my best friends is a doctor and we talk about it. I think the phrase is cumulative.

“By the way, I’m not comparing what I am going through to some of the stuff people go through — as a lawyer, my clients with PTSD were asylum seekers and refugees. I would never give equivalence to what I am going through, nor would I ever want people to feel sorry for me.”

Around four out of every 100 people in the UK experience PTSD, according to UK mental health charity Mind.

Meanwhile, the NHS says that the condition affects one in every three people who have a traumatic experience.

Trauma can vary greatly, ranging from physical injuries to mental or emotional abuse. Veterans who have experienced conflict can experience PTSD after returning from battle, for example.

Find out below what PTSD and its symptoms are, and how it’s treated.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur immediately after a traumatic incident or can present itself in the weeks, months, or even years afterwards. It’s not clear why some people experience PTSD and others don’t.

Some people who experience repeated trauma may develop complex PTSD, which causes similar symptoms.

If you or someone you know is still experiencing issues relating to trauma more than four weeks after it occurred, you should speak to your GP.

It’s natural to feel upset or scared after an incident, but strong symptoms after a month could be a sign you need more support.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Someone with PTSD will often relive a traumatic event and experience feelings of isolation, anger, and guilt.

According to the NHS, symptoms of PTSD include:

  • flashbacks

  • nightmares

  • repetitive and distressing images or sensations

  • physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling

People with PTSD often have issues with insomnia and concentration, finding it difficult to pay attention. These symptoms are often severe enough to have a significant impact on the person's day-to-day life.

If you think you or someone you know may have PTSD, the first step is to speak to your GP about your concerns.

How is PTSD treated?

PTSD can be treated, and the treatment depends on how severe the symptoms are and when they appeared following the traumatic event.

Treatment can include monitoring your symptoms, taking antidepressants, or undergoing psychological therapy, such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service or talk to your GP for more information if you believe you are suffering from PTSD.