Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD
By Allison G. S. Knox
A recent article in Firefighter Nation discussed some of the hardships faced by firefighters and the tragedy of suicide. The article is one of the many discussions lately within the emergency management community about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with an emphasis on PTSD for returning military service members.
PTSD is at the top of the policy agenda, with politicians growing increasingly concerned about the well-being of service members and first responders.
It is often difficult to recognize the symptoms of PTSD. However, understanding a few basic signs could prove helpful in figuring out when you or a family member needs to seek help.
Many people suffering from PTSD complain about a variety of sleep disturbances. Some people can’t get enough sleep, some can’t sleep at all and others are tormented by nightmares when they do fall asleep. The National Center for PTSD lists some of these sleep disturbances on their website, along with frequently asked questions about sleep disturbances and PTSD.
If you’ve had trouble sleeping for quite a while, contact your primary care physician or a mental health professional. They will help you get a better night’s sleep.
People suffering from PTSD often talk about feeling “instant rage.” Snapping at friends and family is one thing, but feelings of rage or general intensity on a regular (perhaps daily) basis might prove to be more than just being irritated with someone else.
In a recent Military Times article, clinical psychologist Bret Moore discussed depression and irritability as signs and symptoms of PTSD. It is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional to help you work through this feeling of constant irritation or depression to feel better in the long run.
Increased Drug and Alcohol Consumption
Increased drug and/or alcohol consumption are telltale signs that something isn’t right with how you’re feeling. If you find that you’re regularly drinking more alcohol or using drugs heavily, it is time to seek treatment with a mental health professional before your PTSD becomes worse.
Many PTSD sufferers say they have sudden thoughts that pull them back to a time where they experienced trauma. A typical scenario could be a violent event that occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan, or it could also be a domestic 911 call that required first responders.
These intrusive thoughts can be triggered by a number of different factors. Learning how to manage intrusive thoughts can take years of therapy. But with the help of a well-trained professional, you can learn how to deal with these thoughts to minimize and manage them.
If You Suspect You Suffer from PTSD, Get Help Quickly
If you’ve been through a traumatic experience and suspect that you’re now suffering from PTSD, find a mental health professional or physician immediately. Getting professional help can relieve your symptoms.
The biggest problem with PTSD is that it invades your life, making it difficult to function and to feel good about yourself. But by taking the time to get assistance, you can get your life back on track.
The preceding article originally appeared at EDM Digest.