Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that is often developed after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It’s a disorder most commonly associated with the military and soldiers. However, that is not the only occupation that is at risk for developing this disorder.
Certain professionals are at a higher risk for developing PTSD and other disorders. Traumatic events, such as sexual assault, combat, or accidents, are common causes of PTSD. There are a number of professions that directly experiencing such events often, if not daily.
It should come at no surprise that those working in the military are at a high risk for developing PTSD. Combat veterans develop the disorder at different rates but this is the profession with the highest risk. It’s not just the combat, injuries, or death that military personnel experience either. A large number of individuals in the military report experiencing sexual harassment and assault which results in PTSD.
Law enforcement officers are exposed to a number of serious threats and stressful situations daily. They often witness traumatic events or the effects of such actions on the victims. Only about 10% of police officers experience PTSD. This lower than expected number is likely because police officers receive opportunities and are encouraged to engage with mental health professions. There are rules in place to help combat them from developing PTSD, for example after a shooting, officers are required to undergo therapy to cope. Police officers are also screened before getting hired to ensure they have stable mental health.
Firefighters deal with more than fires. They are the first responders to vehicle accidents and natural disasters in most countries. It is an extremely hazardous profession. Firefighters experience stress daily, from situations that threaten their own safety to having to aid in catastrophes. The rate of PTSD in firefighters is estimated to be as high as 20%.
EMS and ambulance workers are routinely exposed to high stress situations many that are literally life and death situations. This profession has a high rate of PTSD, as high as 20%. When pre-employment screening and easy access to mental health services are provided the rate goes down significantly.
Other health care workers, particularly those that work in emergency rooms or intensive care units, are at higher risk to develop PTSD. There are many variables when looking at healthcare workers though. The units worked in greats impacts the rate at which this disorder develops. The ICU, ER, and those that work directly with victims of assault, have higher rates than those that work in other units.
You may think that being a journalist is a fairly low risk job for PTSD. For most it is, but those that work as war correspondents are exposed to increased risk of personal threats such as injuries, kidnappings, or death. The rate among these individuals for PTSD is close to 30%. A big cause of this high number is likely the lack of support and resources available to these individuals.
First responders are the rescue workers, medical workers, and volunteers that are the first to arrive and aid after a disaster as struck. This could either be a natural disaster such as a wildfire or hurricane, or even a terrorist attack such as a school shooting or bombing. These individuals witness these traumatic events and the aftermath first hand. The prevalence of PTSD among this profession is between 15-30%.