June is National PTSD Awareness Month with a goal of raising awareness about mental health and to improve treatments. This is our first focus article for the month of June on PTSD. If you are having trouble with accepting or adjusting to life’s challenges, Dr. Holland can help you find healthy ways of coping. Learn more …
For firefighters, every day can be an emergency, rushing into flames and disasters as others can only hope to rush out. And make no mistake, it takes a toll. Exposure to such traumatic events throughout their careers places these first responders at heightened risk for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and new research from the University of Houston First Responder Program, indicates that PTSD means trouble for their intimate relationships.
“Individuals experiencing PTSD symptoms often experience interpersonal problems and relationship stress, and this may be due to emotion regulation difficulties,” reports Anka Vujanovic, associate professor of psychology and director of the UH First Responder Program and the Trauma and Stress Studies Center in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. “Negative alterations in cognition and mood were especially relevant to emotion regulation difficulties and relationship satisfaction.”
The paper’s lead author is Donald A. Godfrey, a doctoral student in the lab of Julia Babcock, professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Couples Therapy at UH. The study examined the association between PTSD symptoms, couple relationship satisfaction and emotion regulation difficulties among 188 firefighters who completed an online questionnaire.
“To our knowledge, no prior research has examined the role of emotion regulation difficulties in the association between PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction,” said Godfrey. “This study was the first to identify these associations among firefighters.”
Difficulty regulating emotion also appears to have negative effects on couple intimacy, as individuals who report heightened emotion regulation difficulties demonstrated heightened fear of being controlled by their partners and avoidance of closeness. Their partners reported decreased perception that they would be open to emotional dialogue.
“Results indicated that PTSD symptom severity was negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and positively associated with emotion regulation difficulties,” wrote Godfrey.
The findings highlight the importance of understanding associations between PTSD and interpersonal functioning among firefighters.
“Emotion regulation difficulties may offer a path for clinically targeting PTSD symptoms and relationship functioning among firefighters,” said Babcock.
Read this article on ScienceDaily
After a traumatic experience, it’s normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected. But if the upset doesn’t fade, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can develop following any event that makes you fear for your safety. Most people associate PTSD with rape or battle-scarred soldiers—and military combat is the most common cause in men. But any event, or series of events, that overwhelms you with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and leaves you emotionally shattered, can trigger PTSD—especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable.
PTSD can affect people who personally experience the traumatic event, those who witness the event, or those who pick up the pieces afterwards, such as emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends or family members of those who went through the actual trauma. Whatever the cause for your PTSD, by seeking treatment, reaching out for support, and developing new coping skills, you can learn to manage your symptoms, reduce painful memories, and move on with your life.
If you are having trouble with accepting or adjusting to life’s challenges, Dr. Holland can help you find healthy ways of coping. The simple act of expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic. Dr. Holland will tailor treatment to meet your specific needs. Fill out the online appointment form to reserve an appointment or call 707-479-2946.