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Old 04-28-2013, 01:06 PM   #1
azemtb255
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Depression In EMS


I did a search and could not find anything like this, so I figured I would try to start a thread.

Depression is extremely prevalent in the United States. I wanted to find out your thoughts on depression in EMS because mental health is a big part of health. Three questions:

1) How prevalent is depression among EMS personel? Do you think it is higher or lower than the general population and why?

2) Do you have any direct experience with depression in EMS? This could be with a partner who struggled with depression, a friend in EMS, or even yourself. What did you do (if anything) to try to help them.

3) At what point should a EMS provider remove themselves from the field because of depression, and when should they consider returning?


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Old 04-28-2013, 10:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by azemtb255 View Post
I did a search and could not find anything like this, so I figured I would try to start a thread.

Depression is extremely prevalent in the United States. I wanted to find out your thoughts on depression in EMS because mental health is a big part of health. Three questions:

1) How prevalent is depression among EMS personel? Do you think it is higher or lower than the general population and why?

2) Do you have any direct experience with depression in EMS? This could be with a partner who struggled with depression, a friend in EMS, or even yourself. What did you do (if anything) to try to help them.

3) At what point should a EMS provider remove themselves from the field because of depression, and when should they consider returning?
1) Unknown to me, but I would suspect that depression runs more frequently in EMS than the general public. The effects of severe sleep deprivation, missing holidays and weekend activities, lack of job security, lack of career advancement, low pay that requires copious OT and per diem work, seeing human suffering and death on a regular basis, and stress on marriages and other personal relationships all take their toll.

2) I've seen many, many people project a miserable, irritable persona on the job. One co-worker was granted two months of leave usage (his own, not the county's) due to clinical depression from working five years at a busy station that typically runs all day, and most of the night. He almost got divorced. When he returned to work, he was relocated to a slow station.

3) Hard to say; every situation's different. If you need more than a month or two away from EMS, you probably shouldn't be in the field at all. You're just going to return to the same conditions that caused you your distress in the first place.

Edit: If you need to do a project for RN School, do one on sleep deprivation in EMS and fire. A co-worker's daughter recently polled a number of stations for her study.
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Last edited by 46Young; 04-28-2013 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:07 AM   #3
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My brother's first partner recently commited suicide but I believe that was related to the war more than EMS. That is something to consider...Who is in this job and what past experiences would add to depression? Maybe there is more than just EMS. btw-my brother does NOT suffer depression and works inner city EMS as a medic and has no past war or military experience. Bottom line is get help if you need it and help others if they don't see it.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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Good post.

Don't know about EMS, but the "common knowledge" is that retired law enforcement has a "spike" of suicides shortly (few years ) after retirement. Since their culture while in LE suggested that they have firearms on hand and drink a lot, and they have a high divorce rate and can't identify with or make themselves understood by non-LE their depression as expressed by suicidality is particularly lethal.

NO idea how to study this properly, since "working ambulance" is sort of like working at McDonalds for many folks, they grow out of it, hurt their backs, or otherwise leave before it becomes their life forever. And the urban experience is very different than the rural one.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:07 PM   #5
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I don't see what your depression has to do with the career you choose to do for the rest of your life?
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:42 PM   #6
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I have a theory that EMS providers are at higher risk for depression and trouble at home because of the way that the job can enhance some of the less desirable parts of our personalities.

For some people, the constant go-go-go nature of the job, with steady, high energy interaction with people, and the perception that everything we do is pivotal, earth-moving stuff, combined with the zero-to-60 momentum swing when we go from kicking back to getting a call can lead to overdeveloped or exaggerated autonomic nervous system response.

Thus, we can go-go-go for long shifts, with sympathetic activation as needed for more go-go-go, but when we get home, the safety and comfort of home provokes a parasympathetic crash, sometimes more depending on how life is going.

This cycle can be a very bad one, depending on relationships at home. Considering the kinds of personalities that are drawn to the field, home being the boring, sleep place set people up for negative energy when they think of home, and with low energy levels at home, the relationships can be strained when loved ones think "you can do everything you can for others, but never anything for us at home."

This applies to many people who fill "sheep dog" roles in society. The roles are so important, and the people filling them so passionate, that the full-on energy with which they throw themselves into the job leave little for others sometimes.

I think this is a very important concept to be aware of to help in preventing the cycle, and to deal with unrealistic expectations before they become a problem and lead to conditions like depression.
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:28 AM   #7
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Considering the types of individualizes that are attracted to the area, house being the tedious, rest position set individuals up for adverse power when they think of house....
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by abckidsmom View Post
I have a theory that EMS providers are at higher risk for depression and trouble at home because of the way that the job can enhance some of the less desirable parts of our personalities.

For some people, the constant go-go-go nature of the job, with steady, high energy interaction with people, and the perception that everything we do is pivotal, earth-moving stuff, combined with the zero-to-60 momentum swing when we go from kicking back to getting a call can lead to overdeveloped or exaggerated autonomic nervous system response.

Thus, we can go-go-go for long shifts, with sympathetic activation as needed for more go-go-go, but when we get home, the safety and comfort of home provokes a parasympathetic crash, sometimes more depending on how life is going.

This cycle can be a very bad one, depending on relationships at home. Considering the kinds of personalities that are drawn to the field, home being the boring, sleep place set people up for negative energy when they think of home, and with low energy levels at home, the relationships can be strained when loved ones think "you can do everything you can for others, but never anything for us at home."

This applies to many people who fill "sheep dog" roles in society. The roles are so important, and the people filling them so passionate, that the full-on energy with which they throw themselves into the job leave little for others sometimes.

I think this is a very important concept to be aware of to help in preventing the cycle, and to deal with unrealistic expectations before they become a problem and lead to conditions like depression.




Thats the first time Ive heard it put into words but I really think you have hit the nail on the head! I struggle with this sometimes. When all I want to do is go home and go to sleep or rest and forget everything I have to remember that I have a family who needs me as much as the rest of my district needs me.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:55 AM   #9
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Thats the first time Ive heard it put into words but I really think you have hit the nail on the head! I struggle with this sometimes. When all I want to do is go home and go to sleep or rest and forget everything I have to remember that I have a family who needs me as much as the rest of my district needs me.
They need you more, really. I find that exercising before I go home really helps fight that.
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:50 PM   #10
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They need you more, really. I find that exercising before I go home really helps fight that.
ugh!!! exercise.....thats a bad word!! Actually its a bad word i need to work on! lol
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