Life comes with many challenging obstacles that entirely change the foundation of our very lives. Among these obstacles are situations that can be difficult to cope with. Everyone has a different way of dealing with these situations. Feeling nervous, fatigued, finding it difficult to sleep and having your thought process scrambled are all normal reactions to traumatic events. Usually these symptoms decrease over time and everyone returns to the lives they had before the experience. However, when this is not the case, the individual is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-traumatic Stress disorder is defined as a mental illness that involves the exposure to trauma involving death or the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. An event is categorized as traumatic when it is frightening, overwhelming and causes a lot of distress. A traumatic event can range anywhere from crimes to wars and are often unexpected. The difference between PTSD and a normal response to trauma is the duration of the symptoms someone experiences after the event. A normal response to trauma includes the same symptoms as PTSD but lasts between several days and several weeks, but they eventually subside. It is not out of the ordinary that people experience these problems; it would be strange if they didn’t. Nevertheless, a normal response to trauma escalates to PTSD when someone gets stuck in that state for an extended period of time. The symptoms don’t decrease and individuals progressively begin to feel worse as each day passes.
PTSD by the Numbers
Canada’s population as of 2014 is an estimated 35,344,962; of that amount it has been researched that 1-3% experience some type of post-traumatic stress. In terms of law enforcement officers working in urban areas, 20-30% of them will develop a reaction to PTSD during their lifetime. The reaction can be formed by shooting someone, losing a partner in the line of duty, or witnessing a child’s death. Similarly to other victims of PTSD, the reactions differ from person to person.
Direct and Indirect Victims
Police officers, sexual assault victims, robbery victims, military officers, and any other immediate victims of trauma are considered direct victims of PTSD. Conversely, indirect individuals are also at risk of developing PTSD. A good example of this is people who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The incident affected those people in many ways and most of them have yet to recover. A study also showed that in recent years dispatchers are at high risk of developing PTSD. The study analyzed 171 currently employed emergency dispatchers from 24 US states. They went on to explain that the most commonly identified worst calls are those dealing with unexpected injury or death of a child (16.4%), followed by suicidal callers (12.9%), shootings involving officers (9.9%), an calls involving the unexpected death of an adult (9.9%). The results of this study showed that the levels of...