How Firefighters Develop PTSD

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Firefighters were the main topic of discussion at the 2017 PTSD Conference. The event was dedicated to finding ways and means to help Texas firefighters (and all the firefighters across the globe, for that matter) reduce their symptoms of PTSD. It was also mentioned that these firefighters had shown similar symptoms with the military soldiers who manifested with moderate to severe PTSD, along with other mental health illnesses. This is because, like soldiers, they are obliged to respond immediately to emergencies and need to respond appropriately – all the time.

In relation to this, we will be sharing here some helpful information about PTSD and its development among firefighters.

The incidence of PTSD among firefighters has increased compared to other professions. Most of us, at some point in our lives, go through a traumatic experience. Not all traumatic experiences eventually lead to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, but those who have gone through multiple traumatic experiences are more likely to develop PTSD.

The trauma that these firefighters usually experience arises from their exposure to individuals they help that are DOA, severely injured crime victims, as well as too much stress from helping infants and children. Additionally, they reported that they also feel so depressed after medical emergencies due to vehicular accidents.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for firefighters developing PTSD. These include working as a firefighter at an early age, being single, previous treatment for another illness, near-death experiences, feeling intense fear when experiencing trauma, and pessimism, among others.

Preventive Factors 

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It is undoubtedly true that firefighters have a higher likelihood of feeling over-stressed because of their job. Still, it is also important to remember that a majority of them do not develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, some preventive factors were found to help decrease the chances of firefighters having PTSD, social support being one of them. Love and support from family, friends, and significant others are a big factor in helping these unsung heroes cope and overcome their traumas.

Also, getting help from a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or counselor, can guide the firefighter into facing his fears and learning how to handle them.