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Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional and psychological response to deeply disturbing and distressing experiences. Trauma responses can result from real or perceived threats to our safety and life. The experience may psychologically and emotionally overwhelm us and our ability to cope. 

Not all distressing experiences result in post-traumatic stress disorder and not all uniformed personnel have PTSD. 

Many people walk into their first responder careers with already having experienced trauma in their lives. Without working through the trauma already present, people often experience overwhelming symptoms that are challenging to understand and manage. Some of you may not have experienced traumatic events prior to your career but have noticed that there are experiences that "stick" with you. These are events that seem to follow you throughout the years and emotionally provoke you when you think of them. You may struggle with nightmares of the event or sleepless nights thinking about the memory. There may be a desire to mask these thoughts and the emotions attached to them through self-medicating methods or self-destructive behaviors that give us a rush of adrenaline or distraction. We may dissociate often, finding ways to "check out" or "disconnect" from anything that seems emotionally taxing. We avoid areas, reminders, or people that incite an emotional reaction to the memory of the event. Our capacity to handle life's challenges diminishes and our relationships may suffer from our constant need to distract ourselves from how we feel. 

We may walk around feeling vigilant of our surroundings, which we attribute to just side effects of the job - but what happens when we find ourselves hypervigilant often? Constantly scanning the room, feeling easily agitated, easily provoked, highly uncomfortable in crowds, "hair triggered" toward anger or behaving uncharacteristically aggressive toward others. If you recognize some of these symptoms, our trauma-informed team is here to help manage them better. 


Symptoms of PTSD

Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Recurrent dreams/nightmares of the event
- Flashbacks - moments of reliving the event involuntarily
- psychological stress and/or physiological reactions to external or internal cues that remind you of the event (anxiety, panic, mood changes, tearfulness
- Avoidance of anything that resembles the event
- Exaggerated Negative thoughts or beliefs about the eve
nt or self.
- Excessive shame or guilt. (Moral injury, survivors guilt)

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