Study: Many first responders face PTSD

Study: Many first responders face PTSD

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A startling new study is shedding light on the pressures facing first responders in this country. It found that 85% of them report experiencing symptoms related to mental health issues.

The results of the recent Harris Poll survey conducted for the University of Phoenix comes as no surprise to many crime fighters.

It shows that more than a third of all first responders in this country have received a formal mental health disorder diagnosis, 10% for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, better known as PTSD.

"Part of the symptoms of PTSD is, you know, having trouble sleeping, hypervigilance, avoiding stimuli, depression, anxiety, irritability," described Clint Davis.

Davis speaks from experience, not just as a licensed professional counselor specializing in PTSD, but also as someone who suffered from the disorder, after returning home from a tour in Afghanistan as an Army Sergeant.

That's why he was not surprised to hear such a high number of first responders struggle with PTSD.

"Every human, no matter how much resiliency they think they have, when they experience trauma it affects their brain," explained Davis.

Despite the fact a majority of first responders across the country have access to mental health services according to that Harris Poll, Davis understands why 39% fear negative repercussions for seeking help.

Those fears range from their supervisor treating them differently to co-workers seeing them as 'weak.'

"When in reality, being able to be in control of your emotions, be aware and have insight about your emotions, is actual strength," added Davis.

Other PTSD experts add that the most important takeaway is that the disorder can and should be treated, not dismissed as some kind of weakness.

Brenda McBride, with the Behavioral Health Division at East Texas Medical Center said, "We wouldn't say well just get over your cancer! Get over your stroke. We wouldn't say that."

Davis concluded that successful treatment doesn't just happen overnight. It's a process that takes time.

And Davis said it all begins with talking about it. "You get relief because part of trauma is avoidance. The first step is avoidance. Everybody who has trauma avoids it."

Clint Davis wanted to make one final point by turning to a well known phrase that "Time heals all wounds."

Davis cautioned that when it comes to untreated PTSD, it will often just fester until it's addressed head on.

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