Not all of the work-related injuries you experience in your job as a first responder may be physical in nature. Your work also puts you at increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD can result from experiencing or witnessing an event that is life-threatening or highly disturbing. As a police officer or firefighter, you may be one of the first people on the scene of a catastrophe. What you see may have a damaging effect on your mind, even if the threat of danger is not against you directly.
What are the signs of PTSD?
Symptoms of PTSD are very specific. You may have PTSD if you experience any of the following after a traumatic event:
- Heightened emotional states, such as insomnia or irritability
- Avoidance of anything or anyone that reminds you of the event
- Intrusive memories in the form of vivid nightmares or flashbacks
However, a PTSD diagnosis requires more than the presence of these signs. They have to persist for at least a month and be so severe that they interfere with your work or relationships with others.
How common is PTSD among first responders?
If you experience PTSD as a first responder, you are not alone. According to Recovery Village, approximately one-third of first responders experience PTSD at some point during their lifetimes. By contrast, in the general population, the prevalence of PTSD is approximately 10%.
In other words, as a first responder, you are more than three times as likely to develop PTSD during your lifetime as people in the general population.