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Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

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.

Trouble Sleeping

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.

Unusual Irritability

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.

Intrusive Thoughts

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.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management Degree at American Military University.

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Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.