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Thread: Job Stress

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    Atlanta, GA
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    Job Stress

    I ran across this article today: Life of a Police Officer: Medically and Psychologically Ruinous - Erika Hayasaki - The Atlantic

    Worth a read. It's fairly long so I pulled a couple of quotes, including a link to an organization that might help someone if they can't find anything in their community or agency.

    In 2012, an unprecedented study of 464 police officers, published in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health linked officers’ stress with increased levels of sleep disorders, Hodgkin's lymphoma, brain cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide.
    Other studies have found that between 7 and 19 percent of active duty police have PTSD, while MRIs of police officers’ brains have found a connection between experiencing trauma and a reduction in areas that play roles in emotional and cognitive decision-making, memory, fear, and stress regulation.



    He went to work for an organization called Safe Call Now instead. Established in 2009 by former police officer Sean Riley, it is a confidential 24-hour crisis referral service for law enforcement and emergency services personnel, which also works with the FBI National Academy Associates Inc. to do mental health training for first responders.

    ret.

  2. #2
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    Contributing Factors

    Good stuff ATF-SAC.

    Also from the article:
    "Other studies have found that between 7 and 19 percent of active duty police have PTSD, while MRIs of police officers’ brains have found a connection between experiencing trauma and a reduction in areas that play roles in emotional and cognitive decision-making, memory, fear, and stress regulation."


    A physician at Walter Reed Army Medical Center concluded a study indicating TBI in soldiers who survived roadside bomds; where other soldiers within a few feet died. It takes six months for signs & symptoms to show; and the damage is signifcant. New TCCC protocols have been developed regarding emergency treatment of these soldiers on the scene. I thought back to how many times I'd had my bell rung in pusrsuit crashes and fights while on the street. Firefighters have had support beams, sheet rock, plywood & OSB falling on their heads for YEARS without going to the ER. Medical science is fascinating.
    Stay safe!

    FedAgent

  3. #3
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    May 2003
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    Where the Wild Things Are...
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    Surprised the percentage isn't higher for PTSD...
    You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won't back down... Tom Petty

    From this day to the ending of the world.... We in it shall be remembered. We gallant few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me. Shall be my brother.Shakespeare

  4. #4
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    I think this is a dirty secret for a lot of us in LE, especially those of us who have entered the field with baggage from Iraq and Afghanistan. I've been fortunate enough to participate as a peer support counselor for soldiers and cops struggling with traumatic incidents, and what we hear over and over again is that its rarely a single incident that brought someone to the room. Rather, it was a career of incidents, the most recent of which really caused the bucket to overflow. Additionally, even though the most recent incident was likely a deadly force use, what seems to stick with guys most are other moments, horrific vehicle crashes, fires, the time they didn't save someone, the IED 10 years ago where everyone survived, etc. The point I guess is that everyone expects that a deadly force incident would be the most traumatic, but most guys (and gals) with whom I've sat aren't generally the most impacted by that particular fact.

    Many of us (myself included) still operate under that "macho" code all too often. I've sat in the room with some of the toughest cops and soldiers for whom I have a ton of respect and seen them pour out years of emotional demons. Not everyone needs, or is willing to accept, the help but a lot more need it than are willing to admit.

    All of that to say, a lot of departments and agencies have peer support programs that can keep guys from spiraling out of control. Don't let your machoism be the reason your marriage dissolves, you get a DUI and lose your job, or you're sitting there with your duty weapon in your mouth. Sound melodramatic and like it would never happen to "you"? I've sat with multiple people who said the same thing, and then one day it WAS them. In most cases, a friend or supervisor recognized it and got them help. What I do know is that we'd have a lot fewer "gun cleaning accidents" if these programs had been around for other generations. The response I get when I walk in the room is usually, "I expected a shrink, not a dude with sleeves and a beard." The value in the program is having people who've been there. Take advantage of it if its out there.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2004
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    Hot dang...I made the medal stand...
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    Long term health...

    Quote Originally Posted by whatchagot View Post
    I think this is a dirty secret for a lot of us in LE...
    Western medicine likes to fix things with very little emphasis on doing things that ensure they don't get broken in the first place...and we Americans as a rule aren't real good at looking at the long term impact of our habits...on our hearts, bodies, and minds...only when we start hitting that early forties mark do we begin to realize how we treated ourselves and addressed our long term health in our twenties and thirties does it begin to occur to us maybe we could have done better...no one can argue we are the most medicated society in the history of everything...

    I liked watchagot's nod to the fact that long term stress can add up to PTSD...I would venture a guess that its the long term dealing with recurrent stressful events that most LEOs contend with...and of course my point is that the time to begin dealing with that stress is before it becomes long term...the recurrent stressful events won't ever subside...how you address them in your life certainly will impact your quality of life when you are old"er"...and if you find successful ways to contend with the stress...you may just avoid a medicated life...

    Eastern medicine...that 5,000 year old medicine that started in China and has about a 3,800 year head start on western medicine...likes to focus on the patient doing things to prevent them from getting broken in the first place...and if you think about the time frames and geography involved...the medicine was developed and practiced during turbulent, violent events...whether you're a fan of eastern medicine or not...we all must agree its better not to break things in the first place...

    I don't go for meditation or herbal remedies...but I am an advocate of acupuncture...and so is the American Medical Association...at least they acknowledge that it can help...and its helped me quite a bit the last twelve years...

    Something to think about...CC
    "Every hero becomes a bore at last." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  6. #6
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    Keying off whatchagot's post as well, I think it far more important to focus on changes in yourself and your peers than to look for the root cause. In a number of shops a clearly traumatic incident will bring in peer support by itself. Far more subtle is the changes in attitude, relationships or self medication where it is not one thing. Often there are peer groups that can help as well as counseling, but they require the affected person or a supervisor to initiate contact. The days of just accepting that the job changes you are fortunately moving behind us as we recognize that we can with help govern those changes rather than just live with them.
    ret.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2001
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    New York State
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    Just echoing a little more of the same: While we all need to do a hard self-eval once in a while, this is a disease process that is far easier to recognize in someone else than to see it in ourselves. That means we all have 2 important tasks.
    1) Take care of each other. If your gut is telling you that someone has changed or is in trouble, do something. Don't hesitate.
    2) Likewise, if someone comes to you and says they are worried about you, LISTEN. Even if you are convinced they don't know what they're talking about, seek some support just to prove them wrong. You may find out how right they were all along.

    Sometimes there is JUST US.
    "There is no second place winner"-- Bill Jordan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    Western Hemisphere
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    If you're interested in the concept of Easterm Medicine, combined with Western Medicine influence within the skillset of an American physician, look for a doc with D.O. behind their name. This stands for, "Doctor of Osteopathy" which means, "Doctor of the bones." About one in 25 docs is a D.O. These docs go through the same amount of training & education as MDs; but are hesitant to cut or write scripts so fast. Our EMS Medical Director is a late 40's D.O. and he's GREAT.
    Stay safe!

    FedAgent


 

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