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What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after going through a life-threatening event or our brain or nervous system register the event as threatening.  Even if we deny or minimize the event we can develop PTSD.  It can be terrifying and disrupt your life.  Symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but may not happen until months or years later.  It may also be tied to a build up from multiple events, not necessarily just one.  The symptoms may come and go over many years.

Symptoms may include:

  • persistently re-experiencing the event
  • re-current, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • avoiding stimuli associated with the traumatic event
  • general feeling that you were negatively changed since the event
  • nightmares or upsetting dreams
  • flashbacks or feeling the same horror and fear that you did when the event occurred
  • you may feel that your life or others are in danger
  • easily startled, have trouble sleeping, find it difficult to concentrate   
  • agitation or mood swings, angry out bursts, heightened irritability
  • you may feel depressed, not wanting to do the things you usually enjoy, an emotional disconnect, withdrawing from participation with family and friends, weight gain, increased use of alcohol and /or drugs
  • self-doubt and low self-esteem making you question your ability to function in normal daily activities
  • heightened stress and anxiety/panic attacks
  • claustrophobia
  • feeling like you have no control over what is happening
  • hopelessness...why did this happen to me, why can't I fix this


Seeking Help

Some believe that in seeking help they will be perceived as weak; but, it takes great strength to realize you need assistance and address this situation head on.  

Thomas Edison said, “our greatest weakness lies in giving up, the most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  
With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.   
Eleanor Roosevelt
More Information
More information can be obtained from the National Center for PTSD the website has a lot of good information and is not just for veterans. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

Learn about the risks of PTSD in firefighters in the June 2014 article from NFPA Journal 

Learn about how one firefighter beat PTSD in the April 29, 2016 article from Fire Chief Magazine 

Learn about police officers and PTSD in the 2017 post by Ellen Kirschman PhD on Psychology Today

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Our mission

Every minute of every day, across our country, firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, and dispatchers respond to our cries for help. From the very young to the very old, dog bites, broken bones, fires, shootings, stabbings, explosions, accidents and more, at any time and in any weather, they are there doing their very best to assist us. While some calls are minor, some can be quite horrific, they see things most of us could never fathom. For many of us, just one of those calls would be more than enough for a lifetime, but imagine for a moment, multiple calls over years of service; the things they must have seen, heard, smelled, and tasted. Whether it was one call or multiple calls, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these responders may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. At first, they may think that the call just frightened them and what they are experiencing will go away on its own. But as time goes by and the symptoms don’t go away or they escalate the responder begins to doubt themselves. Sadly, post-traumatic stress disorder is not always understood or accepted in the workplace, so many will not seek the help they need to get through this. They fear that they will be seen as weak, that they will lose their job or a promotion. Reactions from bosses, co-workers, and friends may be less than kind, so they start to doubt their self-worth and lose faith in themselves. Every bit of what they are going through can trickle down and affect their families, friends and co-workers. We need to do better for those who have already given so much for us by putting their lives on the line every day. Responders Retreat offers a peaceful, serene setting where responders can come together to clear their minds, relax, talk with counselors and mentors and start to make a plan to go forward and move toward a better quality of life.