Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Can You Be A Cop With Ptsd

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Guide On How To Help Someone With Depression

A Regina police officer shares his experience with PTSD

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by helplessness, anger, guilt, frustration, and sadness. If you live with someone suffering from depression, you may be confused sometimes. The support you give is a step towards recovery. Also, you should reach out for help from a mental health professional.

How to identify symptoms of depression in your loved one

If you dont understand the symptoms of depression, it can be difficult to motivate the person to seek help. Some of the warning signs that a friend or loved one is suffering from depression include:

Sleep problems

Depression is associated with low energy which can lead to excessive sleeping. Because someone feels tired, they can lose interest in things that you enjoy. While this condition is also associated with insomnia, one may lead to the other. If your family member has withdrawn from friends, its time you take action.

Uncontrollable emotions

A depressed person will have mood swings. He could be angry one minute and cry the other one. Men tend to engage in risky behaviors like substance abuse.


Depression can change the way you see life in general. Other signs include self-hate, inappropriate guilt, and feeling of worthlessness.

Aches and pain

When someone is depressed, he or she will complain of aches and pains. They will have stomach problems, back pain, headaches, etc. This is followed by an increase or reduction in weight.

How should you approach depression?

What to say to a depressed person

Ptsd And Police: Hiring And Retaining War Veterans In Our Ranks

Ensure that your PD doesnt fall prey to sensationalist and politicized reporting on PTSD by anti-war media, which otherwise may influence hiring decisions in risk-averse departments

As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down, veterans will leave the service and begin a job search in an economy that remains fragile. Private sector job growth has been poor, and communities throughout the country have found it difficult to maintain even some of the most basic services.

Veterans looking for work may be disappointed in their prospects.

A number of veterans will, like some Vietnam veterans a generation earlier, see law enforcement as a comfortable complement to their military service.

Avoiding Liability AvoidanceWith reports suggesting a high number of returning veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder , many departments may shy from hiring a veteran that they assume may pose a mental health risk despite encouragement from Washington.

In todays litigious society, law enforcement leaders have made liability avoidance into a legal science and an administrative art. Often spurred by insurance providers, even small departments have extensive policy manuals in an effort to shape officer behavior and manage risk.

Though told that the procedures are in place to protect the officers, only the most naive would believe that their protection is more important than protecting the department and municipality from litigation.

Ptsd From Military Service

Military veterans are known for having higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder . Its estimated that upwards of 30 percent of Vietnam veterans and 10 to 20 percent of those who served in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars will suffer from PTSD in their lifetime .

PTSD following war combat isnt restricted to retired military veterans it also impacts officers who serve in the Reserves or the National Guard and find themselves deployed to a combat theater. During my 25-plus years of active military serviceparticularly post 9/11my military police units were frequently augmented with the addition of Reserve troops. Of those, many were full-time civilian law enforcement who, upon completion of their tour of duty, would return back to their civilian role. Unfortunately, for some of these officers, their time with the military left lasting emotional scars.

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Ptsd Contributes To Other Mental Health Issues

Post traumatic stress disorder has devastating effects. For officers, post traumatic stress disorder has been linked to higher rates of depression and suicide when compared to the general public. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness , 1 in 4 police officers have had thoughts of suicide at least one in their lives and unfortunately, some of those brave officers have acted on those thoughts. Indeed, more police officers committ suicide than are killed in the line of duty in the United States, according to NAMI.

Unfortunately, many police officers do not seek treatment for PTSD and related mental health issues in an effort not to be seen as weak in the eyes of their colleagues. Breaking the stigma of mental health disorders is critical, especially when it comes to public servants like those serving law enforcement. Police risk their lives every day to serve and protect their communities and they should not have to suffer from PTSD or depression in silence. It is up to us as citizens to continue to conversation around mental health so brave public servants like police officers no longer suffer the stigma surrounding mental health disorders caused by their time on the job.

Do I Need A Bachelors Degree To Be A Cop

Police Officer Stress Awareness Poster

Steps to Becoming a Police Officer Getting a high school diploma or GED is the minimum formal education requirement for most police officers. Many law enforcement organizations may require or prefer applicants with a bachelors degree, associates degree or a certain number of postsecondary education credits

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Common Causes Of Ptsd In Law Enforcement

Members of the law enforcement community understand that their jobs are extremely stressful. For so many of them, they carry that stress around with them like another piece of equipment on their utility belts. What many people dont realize is that there are many instances of PTSD in law enforcement officers.

PTSD is often thought of as a military related injury as a result of their operations in combat zones. However, there is a lot of research that shows the correlation between what members of the military deal with and the cause of PTSD in first responders.

Think about what they deal with on a day to day basis. There is quite a bit of stress involved and they are certainly in a high risk occupation. These stresses can have a very significant impact on an officers daily life.

Theres a reason why the levels of alcoholism amongst the law enforcement community is higher than in other professions. The officers on the street are presented with very stressful conditions, and they never know what a routine call might actually bring about.

Ptsd In Police Officers: Repeated Exposure To Trauma

Repeated exposure to such situations contribute to one of the most under-covered issues when it comes to law enforcement. That issue is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. New studies have shown that police officers suffer symptoms indicative of PTSD at a similar rate as veterans of the military. Between seven and 19 percent of police officers exhibit symptoms of PTSD, compared to 3.5% of the general public.

By and large, police officers suffer from cumulative PTSD. As opposed to the traditional definition of post traumatic stress disorder, cumulative PTSD is caused by prolonged and repeated exposure to trauma and extreme stress rather than one particular incident, such as a shooting. The effects, however, are no less devastating for the officers affected.

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The Trauma Police Officers Experience

Mental health issues, such as PTSD and depression, often leave the individual feeling isolated and alone. However, the reality is the opposite and there is always help, understanding, and hope. Many police officers report struggling with PTSD but the actual numbers could be much higher since individuals may not get a diagnosis or want to share their diagnosis. Since officers usually underreport any symptoms of trauma or PTSD, substance use among officers can make the problem worse. PEW Trust says that police officers have a 69% higher suicide risk than the average worker. By treating trauma through therapy, empathy, and compassion, the suicide risk doesnât need to be so high and there can be better healing for families, individuals, and communities.

It can be hard to determine why some cops get PTSD while others donât. There are a lot of external and internal factors to consider. It can depend on how well a police officer copes with stress and what else is going on in his or her life. The number of other unprocessed traumas and whether there is a concurrent condition, such as depression, can also play a role. The external factors include slanted media reporting, community rejection, and lack of support.

Military Vets Joining Law Enforcement

Police Officer PTSD & Trauma Recovery | First Responder Mental Health

January 30, 2014 by Mark ClarkBookmark +

Police officers and military veterans are kindred spirits. Both wear their uniforms with pride. Both don their uniforms to be part of a larger team of professionals protecting those who can’t protect themselves at great personal risk. And both operate within a rigid command structure.

So it’s natural that many military veterans seek employment in police ranks when they rejoin the civilian workforce. That’s what is happening right now in numbers unseen since the closing days of the Vietnam War. The result is a job market flooded with well-qualified police officer candidates who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police recruiters are looking for physically and mentally fit candidates with good decision-making abilities, common sense, and well-defined morals who can respect a paramilitary chain of command. So the men and women leaving active-duty military jobs would seem to be a perfect fit for police careers. But there are many obstacles in their way and hurdles they must overcome before pinning on their badges and joining the thin blue line.

Sequester Effect

All branches of the U.S. military are facing the greatest downsizing of personnel since the post-World War II era. The Military Times recently reported that the Army alone is proposing to cut 80,000 soldiers from its ranks in the next 48 months.

Transition Assistance


A Holistic Approach

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Changing Attitudes To Seeking Help

We would like to think wider cultural shifts within Australia have been permeating our law-enforcement agencies, with a move towards are you OK? and away from toughen up, princess. But thats not the case. Individuals officers attitudes can prevent them from seeking help.

The common features of each case highlighted by Four Corners were an awareness there was a problem, lack of support for treatment from the organisation, but also a lack of independent treatment seeking or personal responsibility for health and well-being.

Reducing stigma and removing individual barriers to seeking treatment is crucial for early intervention, treatment and ultimately recovery and health. People who are proactive about seeking timely treatment have far better outcomes than those who hide symptoms and self-medicate for years or decades.

The first step towards reducing barriers to seeking treatment and instigating cultural change is a multi-level, organisation-wide program of education for law-enforcement agencies.

This requires a supportive framework in which officers are instructed, from recruit school and throughout their careers, about chronic stress, mental health and how to be robust officers. This should include PTSD-prevention strategies, as well as those to normalise the practice of seeking treatment.

Such programs have been trialled in recruit schools at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in Western Australia and the Queensland Police Service, with promising results.

Id Wake Up In Hot Sweats With Constant Dreams Of The Dead People

The researchers say their study suggests that overall PTSD rates in law enforcement are almost five times higher than general UK population levels, last estimated at 4.4% in 2014*.

However, less than a third of those who showed signs of either disorder had been informed and understood this to be the case.

For the first time in the UK we can see behind the cultural trope of the burnt-out copper who has seen too much. This is a clinical and public sector crisis, said lead researcher Dr Jess Miller from Cambridges Department of Sociology, who conducted the work with her colleague Dr Brendan Burchell.

Dealing with disturbing experiences is a defining part of policing, but employees have a right to expect resources to protect them from the impact of daily trauma exposure. Without such resources in place, the cost to policing and public safety will just mount up.

Over half of our respondents said they had insufficient time to process incidents before being sent back out on the next call.

A stiff upper lip attitude will not work in contemporary policing, said Miller. Without decent interventions and monitoring for trauma impact, and a national conversation involving the Home Office and Department of Health, the alarming levels of PTSD our study has uncovered will stay the same.

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Among The Most Significant Predictors Were The Tendency To Startle At Sudden Sounds & Early Career Displays Of Anxiety

A combination of genetic and emotional differences may lead to post-traumatic stress in police officers, a new study finds.

Based on biological studies of officers in major cities, the study showed that the most significant PTS predictors are the tendency to startle at sudden sounds, early career displays of mental health symptoms , and certain genetic differences, including some known to influence a persons immune system.

If we can identify major risk factors that cause PTS and treat them before they have the chance to develop into full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, we can improve the quality of life for police officers and perhaps other emergency responders, and help them deal better with the stressors of their work, says senior study author Charles R. Marmar, MD, the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Published online August 11 in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the study authors employed a mathematical computer program developed by scientists at NYU Langone Health and the University of Minnesota. They used a combination of statistical analyses to test which of a large number of features linked by past studies to PTSD were the best at predicting its occurrence in police officers.

Based on these techniques, our study identified specific causes of PTS, rather than possible links, says Dr. Marmar, also chair of the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone.

How Do We Help Police Officers Address Trauma

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Trauma is real, and so is treatment. Several forms of therapy are effective methods for treating trauma. These therapy methods just have to be made standard and accessible. The shame and stigma surrounding getting help needs to be removed. Cops feel like they need to be superheroes. Or they may worry about their job security if they speak up and advocate for their own and others mental health. However, the only way to manage trauma and its effects is to treat it.

The World Health Organization explains that stress management techniques and healthy coping mechanisms, both learned through therapy, are effective tools for immediately responding to stress and its effects. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can effectively treat PTSD. The WHO warns against only prescribing medication with no supportive therapy services.2

Medications can cause substance use issues when used as primary treatment regardless of whether or not they are prescribed by health professionals. However many of therapy options for trauma can be integrated with treatment for substance use and addiction.

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The Role Of Leadership

PTSD in any form is similar in many ways to a physical injury. Whether a broken arm or PTSD, once the problem is identified and treated, the sufferer can return to a highly functioning life.

In order for officers to identify PTSD symptoms and receive treatment, there must be a change in the culture of law enforcement. Agencies must focus on improving the mental fitness of officers because there is no doubt that PTSD affects a large number of them.

Law enforcement leadership must acknowledge the role PTSD-afflicted officers play in broader public service issues. While data on this subject is lacking information collected by The Marshall Project showed that the few cities that did respond to this data request reported higher rates of excessive force complaints for veterans versus non-veterans .

Ultimately, these are life or death issues , which highlights why it must be a priority for law enforcement leadership. Agencies must provide mental health resources to support both officers and the communities that they serve.


Dreazen, Y. . Tour of duty. Foreign Policy, , 52-59.

McCanlies, E. C., Mnatsakanova, A., Andrew, M. E., Burchfiel, C. M., & Violanti, J. M. . Positive psychological factors are associated with lower PTSD symptoms among police officers: Post Hurricane Katrina. Stress & Health: Journal of The International Society For The Investigation Of Stress, 30, 405-415.

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  • Stress And Trauma Among First Responders

    Steves stories echo those I have heard from other law enforcement officers, emergency medical staff, and firefighters. They are regularly exposed to serious injury, death, immediate threat to themselves, their colleagues and civilians, and very stressful decision-making situations. While people may have heard more about trauma in veterans, they may be less aware of first responder trauma. Others might think post-traumatic stress disorder happens only to those who were directly traumatized.

    However, PTSD also happens in those who witness trauma: exposure to violent crimes or serious accidents, or their aftermath. These events deeply affect the day-to-day lives of first responders, including the police. In one study published in 2013, about 80% of officers reported seeing dead bodies or severely assaulted victims in the past year.

    The trauma can become cumulative for those in this line of work, or those who are repeatedly exposed to trauma for other reasons. Such cumulative trauma among first responders and groups like veterans, refugees, and victims of human trafficking worsens the negative impact, and may impede recovery.

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    Law Enforcement Research Shows:

    • Avoidance of non-police persons by police may affect the level of needed support during a psychological crises because it interferes with establishing a helping network. – Violanti et al
    • PTSD and increased alcohol use led to a tenfold increased risk of suicidal ideation. – Violent, Charles, et al
    • 83% of suicides appeared to be related to personal problems – OHara, Violanti, Levenson & Clark
    • 13% of suicides were work associated problems – OHara, Violanti, Levenson & Clark
    • 11% were military veterans – OHara, Violanti, Levenson & Clark
    • Multiple studies showed PTSD and suicidality along with meditating factors such as depression are contributing factors to suicide. – Spinaris Spinaris, Denhof & Kellaway
    • PTSD and alcohol use was studied in a sample of International police personnel and concluded that traumatic incidents, coping, and stressors interacted significantly with drinking. – Menard & Arter
    • History of childhood sexual abuse prior to the job plays a significant role in substance abuse & suicidal ideation. – Samuels , Violanti & Samuels

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