The job of a first responder is a difficult one. Whether you are one of the first to arrive on the scene of an accident as a police officer, EMT or firefighter, or you are an emergency room physician or a member of the military, you have probably seen some disturbing, tragic and frightening things during your career. You may even be exposed to dangerous and traumatic situations. You and other California first responders should understand the psychological risks that come with the job.
According to Psychology Today, first responders are highly likely to suffer from any number of psychological disorders, ranging from depression and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder. As you can imagine, psychological injuries can take a toll on your health, both mentally and physically. First responders often experience the following issues resulting from the stress of their jobs:
- Worry, anger and guilt about what they may encounter next and how they react to it
- Feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in things they enjoy, flashbacks and sleep issues
- Addiction to alcohol or other substances to cope with mental disturbances
- Physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure, joint pain and heart problems
It can also be difficult to address psychological injuries as a first responder. Your superiors and peers may downplay emotional trauma and explain it as just being part of the job. You might be told to toughen up or worry that you aren’t fit for your job if you begin to experience anxiety.
It can help to understand that anxiety and PTSD are normal responses to trauma, and you should be encouraged to seek help.