Firefighting is a serious and dangerous job that comes with its own unique set of baggage and consequences. Much like how war veterans and deployed military men and women can develop post traumatic stress disorder, so can firefighters.
PTSD is a serious condition that can dramatically change the person that you know into someone completely different. It can turn a loving, thankful, charismatic individual into someone who suffers from isolation and depression.
Causes of PTSD in Firefighters
Firefighters tend to keep the day’s work and their calls to themselves. As soon as they come home to their family and friends, they would rather try to forget the deeply disturbing calls that they had that day than to discuss it. Many firefighters see their work as laying a burden on those that they love, and would rather keep it to themselves.
Firefighters, like war heroes, see their share of the best and absolute worst of humanity. Some of the events that they witness can scar them for the rest of their life. Many of them need to seek professional help, but refuse to either out of:
- Denying that they are struggling, and see it as a sign of weakness
- Think they can handle it on their own
- Don’t want to place that burden or concern on their loved ones
Fighting fire is a highly regarded job around the country, and much of that comes from helping others and being willing to do the work that others won’t. It isn’t a thankless job by any means, but we need to be encouraging to our firemen and women to seek help when they have had a traumatic experience on the job.
Signs of PTSD
Here are some of the most common signs of PTSD that you will notice in your loved ones that are firefighters.
- Signs of emptiness or feeling numb that can include; insincere responses or zoning out in front of technology or mindless activities
- High levels of stress that usually start in the beginning of the day and last consistently throughout the day
- Lack of caring or initiative with tasks and chores around the house
- Lack of caring for anything in general
- They will appear to isolate themselves or remove themselves from situations or activities that they used to enjoy
- General demeanor of sadness or solemness that last throughout the day
What you Can do to Help
If you or someone you know is a firefighter and has suffered from PTSD, let them know that they are not in this alone. We are all human, and seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of character and responsibility. Feel free to contact your local political representatives to let them know that you support helping firemen and women with PTSD.