For many firefighters, being exposed to trauma is part of the job description. In fact, in more and more fire departments, firefighters also act as paramedics who need to respond to medical emergencies. But just because it’s your job to respond to emergencies, doesn’t mean you aren’t personally affected by what you see and experience.
While firefighters are some of the most resilient people around, being on the front lines and experiencing trauma after trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
After everything firefighters do to keep our communities safe, PTSD is not something we can overlook. Let’s review the warning signs and effects of PTSD, so you or your loved one can get the support you need to recover from trauma and continue helping others.
Signs of PTSD in Firefighters
It’s easy to fall into thinking that suffering from PTSD will be considered “weak” by colleagues, superiors and even loved ones. After all, you’re supposed to be this strong hero that responds to trouble and protects others. But the truth is, anyone can fall victim to PTSD – even a firefighter.
If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, it’s important to be familiar with the warning signs, so you can recognize it and ask for help. Some of these warning signs include:
- Severe anxiety caused by reliving the traumatic experience in your mind.
- A persistent feeling of being on edge, which can lead to outbursts and other severe mood swings.
- Flashbacks and behaviors that lead to a feeling of reliving the trauma.
- Having frequent distressing dreams or night terrors that negatively impact your sleep habits.
- Being easily distracted from the task at hand due to memories, flashbacks and negative emotions associated with the truma.
If you recognize these signs of PTSD in yourself or someone you know, it’s time to seek help. We know it can be challenging to take that first step, but ignoring these warning signs can prove to be even more dangerous.
The Effects of PTSD on Firefighters
Saying that firefighters have a stressful job is an understatement. But with PTSD, it can feel like you’re always on the job because of the way you relive the traumatic events you’ve experienced.
On top of that, PTSD can have a significant impact on both your personal and professional relationships. Communication is key both at home and on the job. But when you’re struggling with PTSD, you have a harder time trusting loved ones and colleagues. This can make your life at home and as a first responder more challenging and dangerous.
An Increased Likelihood of Addiction for Firefighters Suffering from PTSD
In many cases, those suffering from PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with the symptoms. And for firefighters who are constantly putting themselves in harm’s way when on duty, they may see substance use as the only way to power through the days.
If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, it’s absolutely necessary to recognize signs of substance abuse. If you’ve turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with firefighter PTSD, it isn’t your fault and it isn’t a sign of weakness. It just means you need help recovering from the trauma you’ve experienced to get your life and career back on track.
Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Firefighters at Fountain Hills Recovery
At Fountain Hills Recovery, we know the stress and trauma firefighters go through. That’s why, as a way to support these courageous men and women, we’ve created a specialized rehabilitation program with first responders in mind. It focuses on treating the challenges and pain firefighters struggle with day in and day out, giving them the care and attention they need to heal.
You’ve helped so many, now it’s our turn to return the favor. Begin your journey to recovery by contacting our friendly admissions team today to get help for PTSD and substance addiction.