The consequences and causes of PTSD are gaining recognition especially as the United States Military has implemented programs to treat soldiers experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in Iraq and Iran. However, military personnel are not the only individuals at risk of PTSD.
The risks that police officers face in the line-of-duty have been highlighted in recent news stories across the nation. Police officers and firefighters in Minnesota are no different. They face the risk of injury and loss of life in their duties daily. These daily risks produce the types of traumatic events that can cause PTSD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) is “a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” However, predicting when and if PTSD will develop is difficult for several reasons. First, PTSD may develop after a single event or after multiple traumatic events. Second, PTSD sometimes develops with a few months of the traumatic event or events, but may also develop years after the trauma. Third, not everyone witnessing a traumatic event will develop PTSD.
The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs defines a traumatic event as a time when “you think that your life or other’s lives are in danger.” With any traumatic event, fear and a feeling of no control are normal. These events cause difficulty in adjusting and coping for a while, but they do not always cause PTSD. If symptoms start to worsen so that they interfere with daily functions or if symptoms last for months or even years, you may have developed PTSD.
Medical specialists identify four broad symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Reliving or re-experiencing the traumatic event or events. Reliving can occur in flashbacks, bad memories, or nightmares. Sometimes, it may feel as if you’re going through the event again.