Moving beyond the Disorder and Acknowledging the Impact
What happens when someone who is truly struggling doesn't meet the criteria for PTSD? Or what if you just need to talk it out with someone but may not have a diagnosis at all? What if the problems someone is having don't fit in that pre-designed box? What if we had another way to talk about what happens after that critical incident? Or years of critical incidents?
TRAUMA-RELATED STRESS INJURIES©
TRAUMA & THE BRAIN
FIGHTING THE STIGMA
We also tend to only collect statistics on PTSD but that isn't effective in capturing the entire picture of the impact occupational stress has on first responders. While this one diagnosis alone has over 600,000 possibilities of manifestation, there's also other diagnoses and non-diagnostic results of continuous and acute exposure to trauma that need to be acknowledged.
There are other ways traumatic, acute and chronic stress impacts our daily lives; our thoughts, feelings and behaviors towards ourselves and others. This isn't all captured in a PTSD diagnosis. Neither is compassion fatigue or classic "burnout."
Trauma-Related Stress Injuries works to act as an umbrella term to include the impact of stress outlined in the medical world as well as for those who don't meet a diagnostic criteria.
Trauma has an injurious impact on the brain. We also know trauma resides not only in brain changes, but also changes in the body's response to situations it perceives as threats. We are built to survive. It is only logical when day after day, continuous traumatic exposure, that the body's system to survive stays "on" beyond what is considered healthy and productive.
The first responder community is working hard to change how we talk about and acknowledge the impact of occupational stress. But, we have a long way to go and must encourage seeking mental health care the same way we support seeking medical care for a physical injury. The standard "to suck it up and move on," is oftentimes coming from within. We are able to better serve communities when we tackle the toll that this work takes.