Trauma Recovery for First Responders and Military Personnel
First responders and military personnel are some of the modern day heroes who choose to run towards emergency situations while everyone else is running away. They sacrifice, train, then dedicate and risk their lives to handling some of the most intense situations possible. It is no wonder then that first responders and those in military service are among the highest risk populations for developing trauma-related coping mechanisms. First responders and military personnel are on the front lines facing highly stressful and risky situations every day. They tend to work long shifts with little or no time to recover or cope between traumatic events.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Public health and public safety workers experience a broad range of health and mental health consequences as a result of work-related exposures to natural or human-caused disasters.” Some examples include grief, threats to personal safety, death, injury, long hours of work, loss, frequent shifts, poor sleep, physical hardship, and pain.
Being exposed to such traumatic events puts first responders and military personnel at high risk for developing stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, and suicide ideation and attempts. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about 75 percent of rescue workers have symptoms of psychological trauma after working a disaster. However, much can be done to ensure that their mental and behavioral health is well-cared for, and that they can cope in healthy ways.
Most first responders and military personnel have mental health care services available to help deal with depression and PTSD. However, according to the APA, surveys show that as many as 40 percent of them said they believed there would be negative results if they used those services.
Dr. Sack, a psychiatrist who specializes in trauma treatment, said in the Psychology Today article, “Trauma and First Responders: When the Helpers Need Help,” that “Trauma is a normal human response to an abnormal situation. It would be strange, after all, if you had no negative reaction to putting your life at risk each day or seeing terrible things happen to people and being powerless to help. Understanding this allows you to move from a mindset of ‘what’s wrong with me?’ to a more empowering, ‘this is what’s going on with me.’”
Reaching out to a support system for help may seem overwhelming. At the same time, it is important to consider the variety of different therapies and modalities of trauma treatment that can be tailored specifically to first responders and military personnel. These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and relatively new and highly effective treatment EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) that work to heal an individual from the symptoms of emotional distress and pain associated with trauma.
It is important to remember it’s normal to experience trauma from stressful and dangerous situations, and it is OK to get help working through that trauma. If you or someone you know is deserving of mental health healing, please don’t hesitate to call us today at 1-888-986-7848.