PTSD and the Emergency Services

Post Traumatic Stress

The Facts:
Police, fire brigade, army or ambulance workers are more likely to be exposed to traumatic experiences and suffer with PTSD.

Most people, in time, get over experiences like this without needing help. In some people though, traumatic experiences set off a reaction that can last for many months or years which is now known as PTSD.

Physical Signs:
Adrenaline is a hormone our bodies produce when we are under stress. It "pumps up" the body to prepare it for action. When the stress disappears, the level of adrenaline should go back to normal.

In PTSD, it may be that the vivid memories of the trauma keep the levels of adrenaline high. This will make a person tense, irritable, and unable to relax or sleep well.

Why is PTSD often not recognised? -
None of us like to talk about upsetting events and feelings. - We may not want to admit to having symptoms, because we don't want to be thought of as weak or mentally unstable. - Doctors and other professionals are human. They may feel uncomfortable if we try to talk about gruesome or horrifying events. -

People with PTSD often find it easier to talk about the other problems that go along with it - headache, sleep problems, irritability, depression, tension, substance abuse, family or work-related problems.

Which treatments first?
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines suggest that trauma-focussed psychological therapies (CBT or EMDR) should be offered before medication, wherever possible.