In this weeks installment of The Firewives Guide to PTSD, I'll be discussing treatment options.
There are 3 main options for PTSD treatment. Your firefighters treatment will vary based on your provider, what your firefighter is comfortable with and what seems most effective.
1. Cognitive Therapy – Cognitive therapy is the most common and involves talking to a therapist, repeatedly, about the trauma and learning to spot the connections between your emotions and your behavior. A qualified psychologist will also be able to give you coping strategies to help your firefighter deal with his PTSD. This route may or may not involved medications.
2. Exposure Therapy – This therapy involves re-training your mind not to fear memories or things associated with the trauma. A qualified therapist will be able to train your firefighter to use different coping strategies, such as breathing exercises, when he encounters stressful situations.
3. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing) Therapy – Mah Boo and I are lucky enough to live in the hometown of Dr. Michael Mithoefer, the doctor who pioneered the use of EMDR. EMDR is a therapy where you are asked to re-live the trauma while focusing your eyes on a light that moves. While it isn't well understood why it works, it frequently allows the person to reprocess the trauma into less stressful memories.
Obviously, medication is an option. However, if it's not used in conjunction with one of the previously mentioned therapies, it's not really a solution. It only puts a bandaid on the situation. Discuss your options with your doctor and decide what is right for you.
Depending on the severity of your firefighter's PTSD and it's effects on yourself and your children, you may want to consider family therapy as well. It can help keep resentment at bay and the communication lines open.
Other articles in the series:
Firewives Guide to PTSD – Symptoms
Firewives Guide to PTSD – How to Talk to Your Firefighter
Wren B says
The easiest and cheapest way to help your firefighter through PTSD is to be an open sounding board for them. Mine has PTSD from the Army and every once in a while a call will put him in a funk and having a spouse willing to listen to him, talk it through and not judge him is our best therapy. Telling your spouse not to discuss calls with your because you can’t handle it will only make the situation worse and then he will continually withdraw. It happens too frequently with military spouses, don’t let this happen in the 1st Responder industry either.
I agree. I’ve talked to quite a few firefighters at get togethers who’s wives don’t have anything to do with the fire service. I’m always willing to be a sounding board for any of them, but it makes me sad that there are women that don’t understand how important it is.
I totally agree, Wren!! However, sometimes, just listening isn’t enough and it can be tough to navigate the different types of treatment options. Many unions and fire departments have free or very low cost mental health services available to firefighters and their families!
Wren B says
I know in my office we get a lot firefighters and cops in the therapists office and they all say the same thing about not having a support system at home. It all starts at home. I’ve told mine as well like you said Val about being a sounding board for other guys. I don’t flinch easily so I’m always willing to hear out their stories. Sadly there are many departments that are still volunteer or too small for the additional treatment options that big departments have. It’s unfortunate that these guys like our military don’t have the support they need.
Yeah, hubby started out in volunteer dept and I’m thankful. It gave me the training because I was forced into helping him deal. I also had to buck up myself so I could listen.
FF eyes and hearts have seen, smelled and felt things that most other people have not. Those things never go away and become a part of who you are! Most Departments do very little to help their employees. FF need to lean on eachother and the Firewives HAVE to know eachother so when issues arise and they ALWAYS do you can reach out to someone. I know station wives and there has been occasions where their FF is having trouble sleeping , eating , forgetful….. angry and thats when she calls a station wife and the wife talks to her husband and the station rallies for one of its own. If its going out and getting a bear and letting a brother know they get it, or a daily text saying I love you Man…… those things are what heals.
Very true Kristie. I was lucky to be able to help one of our friends because his girlfriend told me about some issues. As soon as I found out, I told my husband and the troops were rallied. I think our buddy was at work so hubby called LT and talk to right then.