Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and First Responders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) is when these reactions continue to reoccur for at least one month without resolving. “Seeking professional help immediately following a traumatic stressor may help prevent the onset of PTSD”, advises Dr. Dadson.
Dr. Dadson identifies:
Untreated traumatic stress can lead to long-term mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A mental health professional can help you develop coping strategies and a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
Symptoms of traumatic stress tress can vary from person to person. It is important to seek help from your doctor or a trauma informed counsellor.
In the moment of exposure to the traumatic stressful event, the person’s nervous system and adrenal glands are altered to help take on the perceived threat. A variety of defensive responses are activated in the body.
Natural experiences of this “not typical event” include things like unwanted upsetting memories of the event, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional and physical reactivity and distress. These can occur when the body is reminded of the traumatic stressors. The body and mind are actually working for you to try and recover from the trauma and process the overwhelming experience over time. Within the event itself, too much is happening all at once and there isn’t enough time to process all the information hitting the mind and body.
Flashbacks can be activated by smells, sounds, and other sometimes seemingly insignificant factors. Many people think of these “reminders” as triggers. Human beings are very good at making attributions. But when our minds makes an attribution, “this is like that” and the traumatic memory engages, then the same defensive reactions to the event reoccur in both the mind and body. This means there is like a “reliving of the event and the experience of event” in the trigger moment. The minds attempt to heal.
Dr. Michael Dadson also relates:
Research has shown a correlation between the environmental response to person suffering the traumatic stressor and the onset of PTSD. This is important because PTSD will result in negative alterations in thinking such as memory loss, critical thoughts and negative assumptions about oneself and the world. There can be an increase and exaggerated shaming or blaming for self or others. Further, negative alterations to mood such as depression, irritability, anxiety, feeling alone and the absence of positive affect will be present.
There are also alterations in arousal and reactivity such as hyper vigilance, increased startle response and difficulty sleeping. In the article “The Neurological Pathways of PTSD, in Insights into Counselling, The Clinical Counselling Magazine, August 2010, Cover Article, Pg. 12, Dr. Dadson’s research is presented showing lasting neurological changes in brain structure overtime with the onset of PTSD. This article discusses development, neuroimaging and cutting edge treatments for those who are affected by PTSD symptoms.
Dr. Michael Dadson remarks:
The narrative can be recalling, the details of a traumatic event remembered but without feelings or experience. The body is just numb. There can be moments of highly intrusive distressing images, thoughts, or dreams affected by recurrent and unwanted recall of lived terrifying experiences. However, these “memories” are fragmented, broken narratives. Physical actions such as the tightened muscles or legs running while sitting or clutched hands can happen. Physical embodied memories that are relived in the senses.
Early childhood development plays a role in how we learned to process and manage stress or trauma. See Childhood Trauma Adverse Childhood Events (ACE’s)