• FF: A firefighter referred for evaluation and possible
• Dr. P: The psychiatrist.
FF: “Doc, I don’t know why I’m here. My wife and chief
kept bugging me to see a counselor so I finally caved. But,
I’M NOT CRAZY!”
Dr. P: “It’s not easy to come to a psychiatrist’s office, so
I admire your courage. To help me understand why you’re
here, I’d like to ask you a question or two. Would that be
OK with you?”
FF: “Sure, I can take it. I’m not afraid of you.”
Dr. P: “Thanks. My first question is, Did your wife and
chief tell you why they wanted you make this appointment?
What were they noticing about you?”
FF: “They have a whole list of gripes and complaints.
They say I’m getting grouchy and mean and I’m drinking too much. After a day of seeing the mess I do, YOU’D
WANT TO DRINK, TOO. My wife keeps nagging me that
I don’t talk to her and don’t spend enough time with her and
the kids. The chief says that I don’t talk or hang out at the
station with the guys like I used to.”
Dr. P: “Sounds tough. What do you think about their
complaints? Are they just giving you a hard time?”
FF: “Well, you’d be grouchy too if nightmares kept waking you up. I used to sleep like a rock. Now, I’m lucky to
get three hours of sleep. It’s getting harder and harder to
concentrate or even care about work. And what’s wrong with
having a few drinks to unwind? So what if I close the bar
down sometimes? We see some bad stuff out there. Those
accidents … seeing the kids is the worst. After a hard day, I
just don’t feel like talking to anybody. I just want to be left
Dr. P: “Do you ever feel like you just don’t want to go on?
Sometimes people dealing with what you do have thoughts
FF: “Sure, why should I go on feeling lousy and making
my family miserable? They’d probably be better off without
me. At least they’d get the life insurance money and could
start a new life.”
Dr. P: “Honestly, it sounds like you’ve come to the right
place. You may have PTSD and depression, which are both
treatable. Would you be willing to come back soon to talk
WHAT IS PTSD?
Does any of this sound familiar? Could this be you or
some firefighter you know?
PTSD can look like this or worse, and PTSD and suicide
are becoming much too common among firefighters and
So, what exactly is PTSD? The American Psychiatric
Association’s official diagnostic guide is the DSM-5. In this
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the
criteria require that there be an exposure to actual or
44 FIRERESCUE MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2017
8/30/17 9:13 AM