Many people think about soldiers and assault victims when they hear the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In reality, PTSD is a problem for a wide variety of people. And because of the difficult, traumatic experiences healthcare workers face, PTSD in healthcare professionals is an extremely common problem.
Signs of PTSD in Healthcare Workers
If people don’t recognize the signs of PTSD in healthcare professionals, the individual may never get the treatment and support they need. They may suffer from anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression, chronic pain, excessive alcohol use, emotional numbing, opioid dependence, suicidal ideation, flashbacks, nightmares, increased arousal, intrusive memories, and avoidance.
Unfortunately, substance abuse is a common indication of PTSD in healthcare professionals. Many people use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and cope with difficult experiences.
When someone is burned out, they are dealing with emotional and physical exhaustion. They may feel emotional distance from their job or cynicism about their job. Burnout syndrome happens when someone suffers from unmanaged stress at their workplace.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety frequently occur alongside PTSD in healthcare workers. For example, workers may experience negative thoughts, emotional numbness, a sense of detachment from loved ones, hopelessness about the future, and a lack of interest in activities they previously loved.
Other than flashbacks and nightmares, PTSD symptoms in healthcare workers can also include insomnia. Intrusive thoughts or negative memories can make getting a restful night’s sleep impossible.
Changes to Emotional Reactions and Arousal
Changes to someone’s emotional reactions are known as arousal. The individual may always be on guard, easily frightened, irritable, or aggressive. Other than exhibiting self-destructive behavior, they may have problems sleeping or concentrating.
Emotional Numbness and Suicide
After dealing with so many difficult experiences each day, the individual may become emotionally numb. They may feel unable to feel joy and pleasure about the things they once cared about. PTSD in healthcare professionals can lead to suicide attempts as well if the individual doesn’t get the care and support they need.
How to Get Help for Healthcare Workers with PTSD
Friends, family, and individuals can get help for PTSD. Once someone notices the signs of PTSD in healthcare professionals, there are many treatment options available. For example, a biopsychosocial model allows people to get help through biological, psychological, and social programs. While medication, sleep, and exercise are biological treatments, family, healthcare, and work are social treatments.
Finally, psychological treatment focuses on behaviors, cognition, and emotions. For example, cognitive processing therapy (CPT) helps you talk about healthcare workers' PTSD, your thoughts, and how these thoughts affect your life. You can understand your thoughts and learn how to accept them, so you can move on.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a common treatment for PTSD in healthcare professionals. It involves recalling distressing events while viewing bilateral movements.
Meanwhile, stress inoculation training helps people change how they respond to PTSD in healthcare workers. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, you learn massage and breathing techniques to alleviate your stress response.
Finally, prolonged exposure therapy (PE) can help you gain new breathing techniques to deal with anxiety. If you’ve been avoiding reminders of the traumatic event or experiences, PE can help you confront them head-on.
Learn More About Treating PTSD
PTSD symptoms in healthcare workers are frequently overlooked and ignored. Healthcare workers often focus on healing other people first, so they put their own needs on the back burner. By diagnosing PTSD in healthcare professionals, you can take the first step in getting the right care and treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with healthcare workers' PTSD, you aren’t alone. You can contact Las Encinas Recovery Center today to get help with your PTSD symptoms and other mental health disorders.