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How PTSD Impacts Public Safety Professionals

We rely on the men and women who work in public safety every day. These experts work hard to offer us peace of mind, from firefighters responding to our help when alarm bells ring to police officers patrolling the roads for risky drivers.

What about their own mental health? These individuals may encounter disturbing and, at times, deadly occurrences during the course of a shift. They might encounter the worst of humanity one day and a horrific accident the next. When they leave for the night, the repercussions of such interactions do not fade away.

They have a long-term effect and may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other serious mental health problems. Their working conditions can also cause extreme anguish. Stress, mental weariness, and burnout can be caused by dealing with unfriendly attitudes, long hours, not knowing what the next call would involve, and even department politics.

PTSD: What Is It?

Simply described, PTSD is an anxiety disorder brought on by traumatic experiences. PTSD is frequently associated with soldiers fighting overseas, rather than heroes at home. Due to routine exposure, police officers, first responders, and other health and safety professionals are at a greater risk of developing PTSD.

Furthermore, the illness is not the same for these specialists as it is for soldiers. PTSD can develop over time as a result of several stress-related experiences, rather than arising from a single or brief episode. Cumulative PTSD is the term for this. Cumulative PTSD poses a higher risk to a person’s mental health because it is more likely to go unreported and hence untreated.

Frequent exposure to trauma can influence not only an individual’s emotional well-being, but also their capacity to fulfill their tasks. If officials struggle with the symptoms and negative impacts of PTSD, this could put citizens at danger.

According to rough estimates, about 15% of police officers in the United States suffer from PTSD symptoms. With such a high incidence, you’d think there’d be plenty of aid and options available. Regrettably, this is not always the case. In terms of training and support for these brave men and women, more has to be done.

Common Symptoms of PTSD

The indications and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be rather varied. People who have been affected may experience distressing recollections of the event, as well as physiological and emotional challenges and increased sensitivity. It’s also normal to relive the event through nightmares or flashbacks.

An individual can be properly treated if indicators are noticed early. Understanding what indications to look for and how to help the person recognize the symptoms themselves is crucial to timely intervention.

The following are some physical symptoms of PTSD:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • intestinal distress or Diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Increased heart
  • Pain in your chest
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Sweating

Officials, as well as their friends and family members, should learn to spot behavioral and emotional indications.

These can be subjective and include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Behavioral outbursts
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Paranoia
  • Isolation 

Why Getting Help Is Important

Situational training is frequently given to safety and emergency personnel to assist them prepare for traumatic interactions. However, some of these specialists may be unaware of the mental health implications of these risky and awful settings. Aside from enhancing training programs, more has to be done to provide trainees with the emotional tools they’ll need to succeed in their careers as public safety officers.

Aside from the symptoms listed above, PTSD may have long-term consequences. Changes in behavior, such as increased aggression, depression, and suicidal thoughts, could result from the impacts. Suicidal thoughts and severe depression are all too prevalent. According to research, police officers and firefighters are more likely commit suicide than die on the job.

While organizations do offer some assistance, the environment isn’t always ideal to seeking help – either professionally or personally. Although peer support and other programs can be beneficial, the stigma associated with mental health concerns remains widespread in these fields, which may obstruct a person’s pursuit of treatment.

Professional assistance is required, as PTSD must be diagnosed by a licensed clinician. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, you should see a doctor or a qualified mental health specialist. Public safety personnel who work tirelessly to keep us safe should not have to suffer in silence.

AUTHOR BIO:- Lauren Hoyt is SEO specialist for Galls, LLC, a leading provider of police and public safety uniforms. For over 50 years, Galls has serviced the needs of America’s public safety professionals with a full range of duty gear and apparel from top brands, as well as uniform fittings and customizations.

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