This vernacular allows counselors and patients, along with agencies, to recognize that stress injuries don’t go from nonexistent to debilitating overnight. That language is helpful because of the way trauma affects rescue professionals. They’re always on call, and incidents create a fight-or-flight response. The changes in the body, including increased cortisol levels, help them complete missions under difficult circumstances.
“We didn’t have a name for what was stress impact and injury,” McGladrey said. “People had to be quote-unquote ‘fine’ all the way up until they had PTSD, and there was nothing in between.” Tania Glenn, a counselor who works solely with the military and first responders, said that can have a damaging effect over time.
Repeated stress responses can cause a bevy of physiological symptoms, including cortisol build up, irritability and insomnia, among many others. “There’s this toll that it takes on you, on your resilience, because overall this is great for survival, but it’s really bad for your health,” she said.
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