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PTSD: Who, What and Why?

Anyone can have PTSD  (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) but if you’ve ever been in the Emergency Service or the Armed Forces then you certainly have an awareness of PTSD and its effects. It’s the nature of these jobs that you will regularly be exposed to situations that are traumatic and hard to come to terms with when you take off your boots. 

 

A sad fact is that researchers found that around 20% of paramedics, 22% of firefighters, and 24% of police officers experienced symptoms of PTSD. Similarly, studies of Armed Forces members have found that rates of PTSD are higher, especially among those who have been deployed to combat zones.

 

The increased risk of PTSD among these groups highlights the importance of providing support and resources to those who work in these professions, including access to mental health services, debriefings after traumatic events, and ongoing training and education on coping strategies and resilience.

The four common symptoms of PTSD:

Re-experiencing symptoms: Intrusive memories, flashbacks, or physical reactions to reminders of the traumatic event.

1.

Avoidance symptoms: Avoiding certain people, places, or situations that may trigger memories of the traumatic event.

2.

Hyperarousal symptoms: Being easily startled, feeling on edge, having difficulty sleeping, or being irritable.

3.

Negative mood: Feeling detached and hopeless, having negative thoughts and difficulty experiencing positive emotions.

4.

PTSD can be diagnosed via the NHS, remember it’s important to stress you are in one of the professions above. Treatment for PTSD usually involves a combination of therapy, medication, and hopefully support from family and friends. The problem is that family and friends often simply don't have the understanding needed to help you so it's important that you ask them to look into it online to help them know what they can do to help

 

There’s still a stigma in the general public about PTSD but in the services this seems to be becoming less and less the case as more people are getting the therapy they need. Therapy can include methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Hypnotherapy (CHT). CBT is the most common, and the one most likely to be given by the NHS but the type of therapy sufferers of PTSD need is dependent on the person.

 

It is crucial to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD. There are various resources available to emergency workers and forces (CombatStress, BlueLightTogether etc), including mental health professionals, support groups, and crisis hotlines.

With proper treatment and support, it is possible to manage symptoms of PTSD and improve quality of life.

References:

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

  2. American Psychological Association. (2017). Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/

  3. Crum-Cianflone, N. F. (2019). Prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury among servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan: A systematic review. Annals of Internal Medicine, 170(11), 815-822. https://doi.org/10.7326/M18-2254

  4. McCarthy, G. (2018). Cognitive hypnotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder: A case study. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 60(3), 252-261. https://doi.org/10.1080/00029157.2017.1419364

  5. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2018). Post-traumatic stress disorder. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng116

  6. Stanley, I. H., & Hom, M. A. (2017). PTSD and depression

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