MOLLIE S. WATERS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, impacts many American soldiers returning from active duty service.
The illness is also becoming more commonly diagnosed in first responders, including firefighters, ambulance drivers, medical personnel, police officers, 911 operators and other groups who witness traumatic events connected to their jobs.
According to the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute’s website, “First Responders are routinely exposed to traumatic events in the course of their duties. As such, they are at increased risk for long-term problems from traumatic stress.”
The website goes on to explain the typical symptoms a first responder may feel after exposure to a traumatic event.
“Right after a traumatic event, normal people experience a range of normal reactions, including: anxiety, feeling ‘revved up,’ fatigue, irritability, hyper-vigilance, increased emotionality, problems sleeping, exaggerated startle response, change in appetite, feeling overwhelmed, impatience and withdrawing from family and friends.”
The aforementioned symptoms become even more concerning when they continue to last over an extended period of time following the traumatic experience.
The website states, “These physiological, emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes must occur within a month of the incident, but not more than four weeks and last for at least two days. These symptoms must have a significant negative impact on important areas of functioning (such as social or occupational function, or the ability to obtain and use support).”
The more concerning continuing symptoms are categorized into four areas: hyper-arousal, avoidance, intrusions and psyching numbing.
People who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic experiences, including first responders, are more likely to develop PTSD.
The website suggests people who may be worried they are experiencing PTSD should seek immediate help.
The PTSD Foundation of America has an online checklist for first responders available at http://ptsdusa.org/get-help/first-responders/ptsd-assessment-form/.
Locally, a PTSD support group has been created to help those who suffer with PTSD or who want to know more about it.
The group meets at the Butler Baptist Association office at 400 East Commerce Street each Tuesday night at 6 p.m.