PTSD and Law Enforcement

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It's often thought of in conjunction with soldiers returning from combat, faced with invisible wounds, vividly reliving past traumatic experiences.

But away from the war zone, first responders see unimaginable things on their own front line.

Headland Police Chief Mark Jones said, "There's a lot of death that these officers and first responders see…law enforcers are normal human beings, they are nothing special, they are not superman. They are just average citizens that decide that they want to get into this field of work."

Average people that aren't immune to stress or the conditions associated with it.

Theron M. Covin, Ed.D Center for Counseling & Human Development said, "PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal event that can occur in anybody's lifetime."

Therapists say it's important to remember this is normal.

Covin said, "It is not normal for a person to go crazy and be schizophrenic….But this right here is the only condition that is a normal reaction to something that happens."

However, there is still a stigma attached to PTSD, resulting in many cases going unreported. That explains the discrepancy in statistics for officers with the disorder, ranging from 4 to 14 percent.

Covin said, "Well those are the ones that we worry about the most because they may be aware but they are not asking for help or they are not talking about it."

Jones said, "Some will just put it away and put it away until it builds up. It is kind of like filling up a bottle, sooner or later it is going to over flow."

The key is recognizing the signs of PTSD like repeated flashbacks or nightmares, being overly irritable, or feeling emotionally numb, and then seeking professional help.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: (334) 774-7704- Center for Counseling & Human Development.

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