July bombings anniversary may trigger trauma

The anniversary of 7 July bombings may cause “an upsurge of symptoms” for those who were left traumatised after the incident, mental health experts have warned.

After the series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks in central London which targeted civilians using the public transport system there was an increase in referrals for people with Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Mary Robertson from our Traumatic Stress Clinic explains, “Symptoms of PTSD include having flashbacks of what you have witnessed, what you have heard, and not being able to get the memories of what you experienced out of your mind. Constantly reliving it, even if you don’t want to think about it, nightmares, sleeplessness and more.

“Avoidance is very common afterward. Avoiding anything which might remind you of what happened. Typically a lot of the people we saw then developed travel phobias, they didn’t want to travel on public transport, they didn’t want to use the bus system and others stopped going to work.

“There can also be feelings of survivor guilt. The fact that you may have survived and others didn’t or were injured can also haunt people.

“Anniversary reactions are very common after an event like this. The images in the media and a reminder of the event can create distress and you can find yourself thinking again about the event and having an upsurge of symptoms can be common, even if you have been coping well. It is normal and understandable given what happened.”

After the attacks, a dedicated screening team within the Traumatic Stress Clinic, contacted more than 900 people who had been involved in the bombings and screened around 600 of these people – over 30% of those screened - met criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition as a result of the bombings, the most common diagnosis being PTSD, followed by travel phobia.

Patients who screened positive for mental health problems were fast-tracked into evidence-based psychological treatment provided by specialist NHS trauma services. The majority recovered, which Dr Robertson says provides strong support for targeted screening and treatment following a terrorist attack.

It’s estimated that around 4000 people were affected and therefore there may be many people who were affected but who have not yet accessed help.

C&I is encouraging anyone who has been affected to speak to their GP and ask for referral to local trauma services for treatment. Ms Robertson adds, “If you are struggling to cope with the effects of the attacks please seek help. It may be 10 years down the line but you can get better with the right kind of treatment."


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Priyal Dadhania
Tel:020 3317 6291


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