Few are tougher, braver, and more dependable then a First Responder. Our communities could not survive without them. However, most don't realize the serious stress associated with the job and the toll it can take on them physically as well as mentally. First Responders have higher incidents of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Injury, Anxiety, Depression, Alcohol/Substance Use, Marital issues, and unfortunately even Suicide.
Not only do they see the worst, but the fast paced nature of their work limits their opportunities to process feelings after a hard call as well as the constant demand placed on them to maintain composure. And it's not only the critical incidents but the stress of every day unpredictable work schedules and disruptive sleep patterns that wear on them as well. The chronic adrenal rushes exhaust the body and it becomes harder to turn it on and off at home, which leads to stress and family strife. Add that to the pressure and sometimes betrayal of administration, moral injuries, and the condemnation from media/society, and it can take a real toll not only on the First Responder but their family as well.
Many First Responders struggle with the following symptoms: feeling burnt out, sleep problems, anxiety, anger outbursts, hypervigilance, poor motivation, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, nightmares, flashbacks, ruminating thoughts, withdrawing from people and even family, feeling numb, using substances to avoid feelings, marital/family discord, and suicidal thoughts.
What makes this worse is that many don't talk about these issues for fear of being labeled or it affecting their career. This can make them feel alone, hopeless, and helpless. Once my clients find out these symptoms are often normal for their job, it lets a lot of the pressure off and they can start the healing process in a confidential setting. We will work together to process whatever is bothering you so that it no longer causes you distress. But I will also teach you skills that will help with resiliency. Then you can enjoy life again.