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Anxiety and PTSD

Police officers, firefighters, and other first responders never know what a day on the job is going to look like. You often deal with dangerous and life-threatening situations, and the trauma and anxiety can accumulate and lead to PTSD.

A recent study found that in 2017, more firefighters and police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty. The same study found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be almost five times as high among firefighters and police officers than the general public.

It’s important to note, too, that there are parts of your job that enrich your satisfaction with life. These include:

  • Positive relationships with fellow officers or emergency workers

  • Meaningful and important work

  • Productive and/or positive atmosphere in the workplace

  • Livable wages and benefits

  • Strong and supportive chief

EAPFirst helps you find your balance when the negative begins to outweigh the positive in your mind.

Taking a Look at the Facts

Symptoms of PTSD may include:  

  • insomnia and nightmares 

  • uncharacteristic temper 

  • irritability 

  • difficulty concentrating 

  • difficulty managing emotions 

  • flashbacks 

  • depression 

  • suicidal thoughts 

  • substance abuse and addiction 

Symptoms of anxiety can include:  

  • hypervigilance

  • irritability or restlessness

  • lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts

  • unexplained fatigue

  • excessive sweating

  • Also common: excessive worry, fear, feeling of impending doom, insomnia, nausea, heart palpitations, or trembling


EAPFirst can help you. You can start to feel better.

We're just a call away.  •  1-855-EAP-1NOW

Eliminating the Stigma

Thankfully, the stigma around mental wellness is slowly changing in the first responder community. But it can still be a barrier for some and prevents you from reaching out.

We must continue to change the perception of mental healthcare. We believe it is the responsibility of our community and of first responders to:

  • Educating ourselves and others about mental health: Look for trusted information beyond what you may have received in professional training.

  • Be conscious of our word choice: Use appropriate and sensitive language to avoid stigmatizing those with mental illness. Commonly used phrase such as, “He’s an EDP” or, “She’s 10-96” encourage the idea of mentally ill persons as different or “less than.”

  • Show empathy and compassion for those living with a mental health condition: Empathy is one of your most powerful tools as an emergency responder.

  • See the person and not just the illness: Remember that human beings are complicated, each bigger than any one aspect of their personality.

  • Speak matter-of-factly about mental wellbeing: Whether among fellow officers or face-to-face with someone you know or a suspect has a mental illness, straight talk is the best way to gently ask questions and see how they’re doing. Openness and honesty, expressed without judgment, truly does facilitate connection.  

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