Mt Hood Meadows Stress Injury/PTSD resource Guide:
First responders are generally considered to be at greater risk for full or partial posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than most other occupations because their duties routinely entail confrontation with traumatic stressors. At Mt Hood Meadows we have resources available to assist both our First Responders and other team members who have witnessed or been involved in a traumatic event at work. This guide will share articles that explain PTSD signs and symptoms and outline resources that are available to help if you or one of your team members is suffering from PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic or stressful event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.
Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.
PTSD vs. a normal response to traumatic events
Following a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. When your sense of safety and trust are shattered, it’s normal to feel unbalanced, disconnected, or numb. It’s very common to have bad dreams, feel fearful, and find it difficult to stop thinking about what happened. These are normal reactions to abnormal events.
For most people, however, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, and they gradually lift. But if you have post-traumatic stress disorder, the symptoms don’t decrease. You don’t feel a little better each day. In fact, you may start to feel worse.
A normal response to trauma becomes PTSD when symptoms don’t improve or worsen with time.
After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you start to come out of it. With PTSD, however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.
What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
- Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
- Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event
Intensity of symptoms
PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.
If you have suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
- Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.
When to get emergency help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
If you know someone who’s in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person to keep him or her safe. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
How to support your friends/co-workers
- Know the signs and symptoms of PTSD and keep an eye out for them.
- Know where/how to connect with the Employee Assistance Program and other resources (info below).
- Check in with your team on a regular basis.
Mt Hood Meadows Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The Mt Hood Meadows Employee Assistance Program is a good starting point to access free counseling both in person and/or over the phone.
The employee assistance program can help you to privately resolve problems that may interfere with work, family, and life in general. Your EAP is provided for FREE to you and your dependents, living at or away from home, and household members, related or not. EAP services are always confidential. Go to https://myrbh.com/Home/Home?role=member and use password: gomeadows to visit the website and access EAP resources.
If you think you are suffering from PTSD with symptoms resulting from work that are getting worse, last for months or even years, and are interfering with your day-to-day functioning, your PTSD may be compensable through Worker’s Compensation. If you would like to pursue a Worker’s Compensation claim to treat your PTSD, please contact your Department Manager or Risk Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss options.
PTSD articles and training:
Stress Injury Risk for Ski Patrollers https://www.nspeast.org/uploads/5/4/4/2/54429089/critical_incident_stress_injury_article_5.5.19.pdf
Stress Injury Formation Part 1 (You Tube)
Stitcher Podcast on Psychological First Aid
The Responder Alliance
The Man Who Saw Too Much
Veterans Affairs PTSD resource guide: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/awareness/ptsd_treatment_works.asp?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=GS2YM&utm_campaign=NCPTSD