A New Focus on the “Post” in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A body of evidence suggests that your social environment immediately after a traumatic event can, at least to some degree, dictate the long-lasting effects. I find this extremely interesting and definitely believe there is something to this theory. Certainly, I think there are others factors, like the nature of the event itself, that play a bigger role, but I do see the connection.

For me, my “social environment” immediately after an event was interacting with the fella’s back at the firehouse. Not exactly a supportive and nurturing environment to express your feelings after being directly and intimately involved in a horrific situation. In fact, it was the exact opposite. It’s like the Tom Hanks line from League of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball!” Substitute firehouse for baseball……

It seems to me that by raising the level of awareness in first responders, and thereby changing the environment, we can prevent a significant number of PTSD cases. Would this have helped me? I’m not sure…..I think I have some other contributing factors that would still have dictated some degree of PTSD. However, I do think it is plausible that the effects might have been less – maybe dramatically less. It certainly would not have made it worse…..

Here’s a link to an article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/25/science/understanding-the-effects-of-social-environment-on-trauma-victims.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&smid=tw-share

 

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6 responses

  1. I’ll agree with the concept. At 19 I was in a situation where I could either sound like a wussy girl and whimper about the call I’d been on (fatal stabbing, assailant still on scene, and I walked past the guy to boot), or I could suck it up. The second didn’t work so hot. πŸ˜‰

    1. “Suck it up” is the culture. We are trained (brainwashed?) to think we are weak if things get to us. If you can’t laugh and joke about it immediately after, you aren’t “one of the fella’s”.

  2. Nice to meet you , fellow first responder and ptsd survivor! πŸ™‚ >< (shakes hands)
    I so agree with you. Maybe, if there had been someone to listen, my Firehouse Brother and Mentor would still be alive today, and maybe – just maybe, I wouldn't still be having nightmares from the years responding to scenes and having no support.

    1. Nice to meet you too. Thanks for following and contributing. Prevention is the key. The problem: How do we change the culture so a “Tired Fire/Medic” can ask for support without fear of ridicule? To this day, I have a VERY difficult time talking with anyone outside of very close family and friends. Certainly none of my former co-workers.

      1. I get that entirely. I started responding to scenes when I was well below the age. My mom told the Chief that I never said it bothered me. I tried to say so, once, got laughed at, never spoke again…took my fears and hurts and bottled them up.

  3. I don’t know how we change the culture, wish I did. No one should have to suffer in silence…it’s too deadly! Maybe in places like this, where we can “hide in anonimity” is a good start!

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