6 Things to Know About First Responder PTSD

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First responder PTSD has long been linked to depression, substance abuse, and suicide. It’s also been associated with an increased risk of other serious mental health issues like anxiety and hopelessness.

Nearly everyone knows a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician (EMT). Learning about the daily stressors they and other first responders face can build empathy and support for their mental health and overall well-being.

6 Essential Facts About First Responder PTSD

While post-traumatic stress disorder is complex, several common factors illustrate its prevalence and impact.

1. Prevalence

Experts estimate roughly one in three first responders are affected by PTSD (compared to the general population rate of about one in five). However, those numbers can be much higher for certain professions. For instance, PTSD in firefighters is 57% and nearly 40% for military personnel.

2. Mental Health Impact

Together with anxiety, depression, and hopelessness, first responders with PTSD also report having nightmares, flashbacks, and hypervigilance. Left untreated, these symptoms can negatively impact a person’s quality of life.

3. Increased Risk of Substance Abuse

First responders with PTSD have a greater risk of turning to alcohol, drugs, and other addictive behaviors to help them cope with their traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, these addictions can worsen their mental health condition, creating a dangerous cycle of dependency and depression.

4. Strained Relationships

PTSD’s emotional toll often extends to a first responder’s personal life, leading to troubled relationships with the people they love. In trying to protect family members and friends from the realities of their work, they often experience feelings of isolation, further exacerbating the situation.

5. Delayed Onset of PTSD

Delayed PTSD has similar symptoms to PTSD and presents in various ways, including nightmares, sleeplessness, and detachment. About one-fourth of annual PTSD cases are thought to have a delayed onset.

6. Barriers to Treatment

Unfortunately, despite greater awareness, there’s still an awful lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues. This often keeps first responders from talking about or seeking the help they need. Long work hours and demanding schedules can also be obstacles to accessing mental health resources.

Learn More About First Responder PTSD

By recognizing the challenges first responders continuously encounter, we can offer better resources, training, and mental health solutions tailored to each person’s unique needs. It can also help the general population recognize the signs of first responder PTSD, encourage early intervention, and destigmatize seeking help.

To learn more on this topic or to schedule a consultation, contact Deer Hollow today.