Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - a paramedic's perspective.

Essay by bartleyUniversity, Bachelor'sB, April 2003

download word file, 5 pages 3.7


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or "burn-out" has always been and issue for paramedics and other emergency responders, but it wasn't recognized or even considered to be a significant problem. The causes of PTSD range from a major life-threatening incident (e.g. war, act of violence, accident and disaster) to a prolonged series of events (e.g. bullying, harassment, abuse, living with a violent partner). PTSD was introduced in the 1980s, before then it has been known by many names including shell shock, war neurosis, soldier's heart, gross stress reaction, transient situation disturbance, combat stress, combat fatigue, battle fatigue, stress breakdown, traumatic neurosis. The following is a list of PTSD symptoms that I have gathered from various sources, but mostly from psychology courses that I have taken in the paramedic program:

*sleep problems, nightmares and waking early

*flashbacks and replays which the victim can't switch off

*impaired memory, forgetfulness, inability to recall names, facts and dates that are well known to you

*impaired concentration

*poor memory and inability to concentrate

*exaggerated startle response

*irritability, sudden intense anger, occasional violent outbursts

*panic attacks

*hypersensitivity, whereby every remark is perceived as critical


*obsessive - the experience takes over your life, you can't get it out of your mind

*joint and muscle pains which have no obvious cause

*feelings of nervousness, anxiety

*reactive depression

*excessive levels of shame, embarrassment

*survivor guilt for having survived when others perished

*a feeling of having been given a second chance at life

*undue fear

*low self-esteem and shattered self-confidence

*emotional numbness, inability to feel love or joy

*feelings of detachment

*avoidance of anything that reminds you of the experience

*physical and mental paralysis at any reminder of the experience

So what types of experiences are most likely to cause PTSD? Is PTSD more prevalent in highly...