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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder caused by horrific life experiences, either as a participant or by witnessing them (Good & Grayman, 2014). The disease's symptoms include hallucinations about the heinous occurrence, nightmares, and general fear. Firefighters participate in unsafe and risky rescue operations that may precipitate the condition. The article will discuss the effects of PTSD on firefighters as well as treatment options for the disease.
PTSD symptoms are further categorized into three types: intrusive, arousal, and avoidance symptoms.
Symptoms that are unpleasant.The symptoms in this category generally “intrude” on a survivor’s life regarding thoughts, body memories or feelings and may make survivors experience similar feelings and reactions as to when the traumatic event occurred. Intrusive symptoms include; nightmares, flashbacks and frightening thoughts.
Arousal symptoms. The symptoms arouse the body to a state of heightened alertness. When a person living with PTSD is experiencing intrusive feelings and thoughts of an adverse event re-occurring, the body responds by being alert anxious and frightened.
Avoidance Symptoms. Avoidance occurs when there are intrusive symptoms in life igniting arousal measures to avoid them, it is definite to want to escape. Avoidance symptoms are developed by the body to avoid unwanted feelings and thoughts. The characteristics of this stage include; feeling distant, self-harm, avoiding places related to a past traumatic event and loss of interest in some activities.
How PTSD Affects Firemen
Firefighters mainly deal with rescuing activities which are dangerous and risky, i.e. when putting off the fire when might get burnt and escape death narrowly or even watch a person die, the scary scenario causes trauma in mind and later develops into PTSD.
Short-Term Effects of PTSD on Firemen
Anxiety. Anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness and worries at all times (Parker et al., 2014). After a scary experience, a firefighter will feel anxious for some time till a suitable counteractive measure, i.e. therapy is taken. When a firefighter is anxious, it alters concentration and considering the sensitive nature of their work; the results will be catastrophic, i.e. one may die easily in a rescue job due to failure to concentrate.
Depression. With a traumatic scene, a firefighter will develop some low moods maybe due to being sad and frightened over a scary event. Depression needs to be countered quickly before it escalates to major depressive disorder (Parker et al., 2014).
Hyperarousal. Firefighters with PTSD exhibit elements of continuous alert, jittery and always on the lookout for danger. The response is caused by flashbacks of dangerous situations at work which seek their attention to evade danger.
Long-Term Effects of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder elevates with time if attention and medication is not sought, some of the long-term effects of the disease include;
Chronic Illnesses. PTSD in the long-term causes chronic illnesses such as Dementia, Heart disease or High Blood Pressure.
Death. PTSD can cause death ultimately if not treated due to suicidal thoughts or diseases caused (Parker et al., 2014). The fact that the disease can develop into major depressive disorder and cause another chronic disease is a chronic hazard whose results are catastrophic.
How PTSD Affects Job Performance
PTSD from the beginning has adverse effects on a fireman within the work setting. With PTSD, the fireman experiences anxiety hence reduces concentration, and this poses a higher risk to one considering the type of rescue services they engage in. Failure to be fully concentrating may lead to fatal accidents at work.
PTSD causes memory problems hence this will alter a victim’s productivity at work since s/he will not be able to remember instructions of duty or roles which will lead to disagreements in a work setting if this continues it will ultimately lead to sacking.
PTSD causes changes in sleeping patterns, and this may result in lateness or absenteeism at work which is not matter to take lightly in an office setting especially if co-workers and supervisors don’t know how to handle a person living with PTSD.
Due to avoidance symptoms, one may not be able to work and deliver the expected mandate, and this is especially when a rescue service needs the fireman to be in a place where s/he experienced past traumatic events, and he may fail to respond to the call.
Psychological and Physiological Effects of PTSD
PTSD causes physiological effects on a patient, and this includes increased heart rate, headaches, chronic pain, stomach pain and diarrhoea, low back pain and muscle cramps and chest burns (Parker et al., 2014).
Psychological effects of PTSD include the effect of memory loss where a victim tends to forget instructions or facts. Mental retardation can worsen to making one insane. PTSD also changes brain patterns in victims (Parker et al., 2014).
Available Treatment/Therapy for PTSD
Cognitive therapy is used to cure depression and is developed behind the thought that an individual’s mood is directly linked to his or her thought forms. Negative thoughts attribute to low moods in subject individuals and low self-esteem which affect a person’s behaviour and even physical state. Through session-led therapies, an individual gets to realize own cognitive errors then eventually trains the mind to think positively and properly which impacts a positive change in mood leading to a happy life (Nathan & Gorman, 2015).
Group therapy is where people suffering from the same disorder meet up to discuss their experiences with each other and forward possible ways to cope. Such conversations make victims open to each other and help them speed recovery through acceptance (Nathan & Gorman, 2015).
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy is a method used in the treatment of depression. It is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on a person and their relationships with other people. Interpersonal therapy is conducted within the belief that personal relationships are the core and cause of psychological problems. Interpersonal therapy brings about an alternate focus to depression treatment by lumbering away from a patient's belief systems plus psyches to his or her interpersonal relationships with the surrounding people. IPT is usually taken for a short while ranging from three to four months and is also focused on social interactions which may lead to negative emotions leading to stress (Jiang et al., 2014).
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are antidepressant medicines used to control the disorder. They are effective as they help in reducing worries and increasing happiness among patients. They include fluoxetine, paroxetine and citalopram (Nathan & Gorman, 2015).
It is evident that PTSD has adverse conditions especially on the guys who give up their happiness for us, i.e. soldiers and firefighters. We should, therefore, accept people with PTSD and understand them and their behaviours, and instead of avoiding them, we should aid them in coping and recovering from the disorder.
Good, B. J., Good, M. J. D., & Grayman, J. H. (2014). ‘Is PTSD a. Good Enough’Concept for Post-Conflict Mental Health Work.
Jiang, R. F., Tong, H. Q., Delucchi, K. L., Neylan, T. C., Shi, Q., & Meffert, S. M. (2014). Interpersonal psychotherapy versus treatment as usual for PTSD and depression among Sichuan earthquake survivors: a randomized clinical trial. Conflict and health, 8(1), 14.
Nathan, P. E., & Gorman, J. M. (Eds.). (2015). A guide to treatments that work. Oxford University Press.
Sricharoenchai, T., Parker, A. M., Raparla, S., Schneck, K., Bienvenu, O. J., & Needham, D. M. (2014). A meta-analysis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in intensive care unit survivors. In B23. CLINICAL TRIALS AND OUTCOMES (pp. A2534-A2534). American Thoracic Society.
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