Counseling for First Responders in Round Rock, TX—Counselors and Therapists
First responders (i.e., police officers, firefighters, EMTs, etc.) have a perilous profession. They are often put in the middle of dangerous situations without any warning. As a result, they may suffer from the effects of trauma. That is where Thriveworks Round Rock can help. Trained clinicians will guide you through the psychological impact of being a first responder. Let’s examine the potential negative effects of life as a first responder and why they are sometimes resistant to seeking therapy.
First Responder Issues
The following are common issues encountered by first responders:
First responders must deal with difficult and devastating conditions, such as observing injury and death, on a regular basis. When you are exposed to numerous traumatic situations, there is a higher likelihood that you may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a disorder directly related to the effects of experiencing trauma; symptoms may include flashbacks, mood swings, and aggressive behavior.
When you face hazardous situations every day you are likely to have some anxiety about it. In some cases, anxiety may reach clinical levels. Symptoms of anxiety may include difficulty sleeping, avoidance of anxiety-producing situations, and panic. As a first responder, there is no escaping worry. It is part of the job.
Regularly dealing with the horrors of trauma can lend itself to feelings of despair. Under such stress, it is understandable that you might develop symptoms of depression. According to multiple research studies, the rates of depression and suicide for first responders are higher than the general public. Depression can be highly debilitating and lead to suicidal ideation if left untreated.
4. Substance Abuse
It is not surprising that first responders are vulnerable to substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol are frequently used to cope with the stressors of work and no one has more stress at work than first responders. In addition, drinking alcohol is accepted as a form of social behavior among police and firefighters. It can be a slippery slope between social drinking and problematic use.
The work schedule for first responders is usually inconsistent. They may have revolving shifts that do not allow them to maintain a regular sleep routine. Additionally, they often work night shifts that demand they stay up in protest of the body’s biological clock. These irregular sleep schedules frequently result in a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation has damaging consequences, especially for first responders, who need to stay alert at all times.
6. Relationship Issues
When you combine irregular work schedules, sleep deprivation, stress, and related mental health issues, there are bound to be problems in maintaining healthy relationships. First of all, it is hard to have a relationship with someone who is often working when you are asleep. Also, a person who is stressed, burned out, or depressed does not make an optimal companion. Of course, the support of friends, family, or a romantic partner is exactly what someone needs to help them cope with daily stress. It is kind of a vicious cycle.
Why First Responders Don’t Ask For Help
Even though they have some of the most stressful jobs on the planet, first responders may be reluctant to seek help. They are often viewed as thick-skinned warriors who can cope with any situation and their work culture and societal views often impede treatment.
1. The Work Culture
First responders often feel like they must portray an image where they can handle whatever gets thrown their way. They certainly do not want to show their colleagues that they may be having difficulty coping with stress. Co-workers need to have supreme confidence in each other when they face life and death situations. When you are jumping into a burning building or apprehending armed criminals you need to know that members of your team aren’t going to crumble under pressure. If people know that someone at work is receiving treatment, they may question whether their safety is at risk. Of course, the fact that they are receiving treatment probably means they are better equipped than most to manage their stressors.
2. Treatment is Weakness
Addressing a mental health issue with a professional may be seen as a sign of weakness. Although it takes considerable strength to see a counselor, it is often not viewed that way. Further, an acknowledgment of problems may cause someone to doubt their ability to perform their job adequately. You don’t want self-doubt creeping in when you are trying to save lives. As a result, you might just try to deny that anything is bothering you. Acting like a problem does not exist is not a healthy way to cope but it does serve a protective function. If you acknowledge you have issues and seek treatment, you might worry you are going to jeopardize your employment. The irony is that you are more likely to lose your job if you don’t ask for help.
3. The Stigma of Mental Health Treatment
Unfortunately, there remains a stigma in the United States about seeking assistance for mental health problems. You may worry people will think you are “crazy” or discriminate against you if they know you are in treatment. Luckily, the need for mental health services is gaining acceptance in the United States. There is an increasing sentiment, even among first responders, that dealing with chronic stress takes a toll that you may not be able to handle by yourself.
At Thriveworks Round Rock we want to help first responders cope with the difficulties of their job. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you are having issues related to being a first responder, please call us at 512-212-7045 or schedule an appointment online.