Most firefighters live with PTSD


A new study reveals that 90% of firefighters are living and working with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The study, conducted by Dr. Marc Lougassi, himself a firefighter, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, found 90% of their professional firefighters showed full or partial symptoms of the mental health condition.

PTSD is commonly associated with the trauma suffered after serious injury to oneself or another, another’s death, or witnessing traumatic events. The symptoms include nightmares, trouble sleeping and other difficulties for longer than four weeks.

Dr Lougassi explains:

"Professional firefighters are frequently exposed to extreme stress during their work in emergency situations. In addition to the physical challenges of firefighting they must evacuate burned and injured victims or bodies. Their involvement in traumatic events exposes them not only to the pressures stemming from the traumatic event itself, but also to post-traumatic emotional expressions that result in secondary traumatization. As far as Israeli firefighters are concerned, there has been no documented evidence of PTSD prevalence, despite the fact that they are exposed to additional trauma such as war and terror strikes."

About 342 firefighters volunteered for the study from all background and ages. Firefighters with any kind of psychological treatment history were excluded. The control group came from the airport firefighters who rarely see any action. Only 5% of them showed PTSD.

“These results support the hypothesis that increased exposure to recurring traumatizing events is a significant factor contributing to PTSD development,” concluded Lougassi. “The findings of this study can help researchers and the Israeli Firefighting Services develop appropriate screening tools to be used during the recruiting process for new firefighters, in order to assure their future psychological safety.”

Source: ScienceDaily, Ben Gurion University of the Negev

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