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Depression and anxiety behind the badge

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DEPRESSION and ANXIETY on or off the job for Peace/Police Officers guy or gals can be a show stopper and as brotherhood/sisterhood we dont talk about it enough or at least til now so what did you supervisors talk about and what do you KNOW ON AND OFF THE JOB

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Depression and anxiety behind the badge

  1. 1. Depression and Anxiety behind the Badge When the job gets to you, it’s great to be able to blow off steam with a fellow officer. Most of the time, that’s all it takes but some days we need back up! P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  2. 2. Right from day one in recruit class Right from DAY one in recruit class we are trained to be logical and solve the mysteries in front of and seek out truth and solutions so why is this any different P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  3. 3. We are part of percentile in life "Ninety percent of the people who walk into your world or area or community have anxiety disorder, they're depressed, or it's substance abuse,". P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  4. 4. Yes we are HUMAN and so are you! Everyday we hear from law enforcement professionals with issues similar to these: • Depression • Anxiety • Marital Issues • PTSD • Substance Abuse • Family Problems • Legal Problems • Medical/Somatic • Suicidal Ideations • Recent Loss P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  5. 5. Is it the new past time or another dragon to just arrest? Doesn’t it sometimes seem worry is our new national pastime, anxiety our default mood? We collectively worry about the expanding national debt, wars overseas and terrorism on our shores, the ever- expanding surveillance state peering into our previously-presumed-to- be-private lives (or maybe that it’s not enough… what are they missing to compromise our safety?), the nefarious motives of the political powers-that-be (or maybe the wicked machinations of those who’d unseat them), and, frankly, the weather. Add to the collective disquiet most of us partake of to some extent or another our individual anxieties: meeting the bills; securing the future; the health, safety, and welfare of yourself and your family; aging parents and vulnerable kids; work and professional concerns (and don’t you have a lion’s share of those if you’re a cop?). P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  6. 6. Perhaps anxiety just seems to be more pervasive and severe because our awareness of it is so much more acute, but maybe it really is due to increased professional and social pressures, cultural expectations, competition for goods and accomplishments, or worries generated by the overwhelming information stew we now must navigate. Whether this is true and, if so, why is less important than the simple fact crippling anxiety creates so many problems for so many people. Maybe anxiety is even creating problems for you. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  7. 7. It works in traffic and here too! P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  8. 8. NO we are not IMUNE to Page Anxiety and anxiety disorders are a wide-ranging phenomenon of broad etiology, experienced in many forms. To fully cover all that anxiety is, or the various diagnostic criteria of anxiety disorders would take far more space that we have here, so we’ll go with a rather general definition and the fair assumption you probably have a pretty good idea of it to begin as experiencing general feelings of anxiety from time to time is a universal human experience. Anxiety is a mood characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and uneasiness. They are often generalized and unfocused (“free floating”), and often an overreaction to a perceived menace. It becomes a psychiatric disorder when characterized by excessive, uncontrollable, and often irrational worry about normal, everyday stressors disproportionate to the true severity of the stressor. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  9. 9. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants Goals For Prevention • Increase community awareness that suicide is a preventable public health problem • Increase awareness that depression is the primary cause of suicide • Change public perception about the stigma of mental illness, especially about depression and suicide • Increase the ability of the public to recognize and intervene when someone they know is suicidal
  10. 10. No it is not just another brick in the wall for anyone! Having anxiety, either situationally or in the form of a diagnosable anxiety disorder, does not necessarily mean an officer is any less strong or competent, but it can certainly shake the confidence. And it doesn’t mean the officer cannot perform or be trusted, because anxiety can be managed or overcome. One of the unfortunate aspects of the job is how it exposes cops to dangers – physical, emotional, and professional – that tend to ramp up anxieties and can lead to social and professional impairments. That anxiety/fear is just commonsense and is your bodies adaptation to raise your level of vigilance and keep you alive. That twinge of anxiety is perfectly reasonable (especially if you were - you know - kind of expecting their call). Reasonable anxiety in any of these situations sometimes morphs into a more debilitating anxiety/disorder when it’s always present; Your fear of assault interferes with your functioning as a cop, or an omnipresent fear of inevitable punishment colors all you do and creates a do-nothing, bunker mentality. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  11. 11. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants What Is Mental Illness? • None of us are surprised that there are many ways for an organ of the body to malfunction • Stomachs can be affected by ulcers or excessive acid; lungs can be damaged by environmental factors such as smoking, or by asthma; the digestive tract is vulnerable to many possible illnesses • We have never understood that the brain is just like other organs of the body, and as such, is vulnerable to a variety of illnesses and disorders • We confuse brain with mind
  12. 12. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants What Is Mental Illness? • We understand that something like Parkinson’s damages the brain and creates behavioral changes • Even diabetes is recognized as creating emotional changes as blood sugar rises and falls • Stigma about illnesses like depression, schizophrenia and Bi-Polar disorder seems to keep us from seeing them as brain disorders that create changes in mood, behavior and thinking
  13. 13. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants What Is Mental Illness? • We called it mental illness because we wanted to stop saying things like “lunacy”, “madness”, “bats in her belfry”, “nuttier than a fruitcake”, “rowing with one oar in the water”, “insane”, “ga ga”, “wacko”, “fruit loop”, “sicko”, “crazy” • Is it any wonder people avoid acknowledging mental illness? • Of all the diseases we have public awareness of, mental illness is the most misunderstood • Any 5 year-old knows the symptoms of the common cold, but few people know the symptoms of the most common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety
  14. 14. TALK does help drink does not! Another part of becoming comfortable with anxiety is to learn how to be comfortable with painful and restless emotions. Most people with anxiety have developed the habit of minimizing or running from emotional pain, or they try to fix it or make sense out of it. Learning to acknowledge emotions and to stay in the moment with them is a major component of taming anxiety. The skill of learning to be mindful of the present instead of thinking in the future or the past is a critical one to master. As our yoga instructor often says: “Lean into the pain. The pain will not hurt you.” Anxiety disorders are becoming common place. An emotion that was designed to alarm people of danger lurking (to our ancient ancestors: “You are in the path of a Saber-Toothed Tiger about to eat you!”) has become misused. If anxiety is chronic and ever-present, we suggest you speak with a medical professional. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  15. 15. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants The Feel of Depression • “What I had begun to discover is that…the grey drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain…comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this caldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion.” William Styron, 1990
  16. 16. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants Possible Sources Of Depression • Genetic: a predisposition to this problem may be present, and depressive diseases seem to run in families • Predisposing factors: Childhood traumas, car accidents, brain injuries, abuse and domestic violence, poor parenting, growing up in an alcoholic home, chemotherapy • Immediate factors: violent attack, illness, sudden loss or grief, loss of a relationship, any severe shock to the system
  17. 17. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants Depression Is An Illness • Suicide has been viewed for countless generations as: – a moral failing, a spiritual weakness – an inability to cope with life – “the coward’s way out” – A character flaw • Our cultural view of suicide is wrong • Invalidated by our current understanding of brain chemistry and it’s interaction with stress, trauma and genetics on mood and behavior
  18. 18. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants • The research evidence is overwhelming - depression is far more than a sad mood. It includes: 1. Weight gain/loss 2. Sleep problems 3. Sense of tiredness, exhaustion 4. Sad or angry mood 5. Loss of interest in pleasurable things, lack of motivation 6. Irritability 7. Confusion, loss of concentration, poor memory 8. Negative thinking (Self, World, Future) 9. Withdrawal from friends and family 10. Sometimes, suicidal thoughts
  19. 19. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants Where It Hits Us
  20. 20. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants No Happy Pills For Me • The stigma around depression leads to refusal of treatment • Taking medication is viewed as a failure by the same people who cheerfully take their blood pressure or cholesterol meds • Medication is seen as altering personality, taking something away, rather than as repairing damage done to the brain by stress hormones
  21. 21. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants Therapy? Are You Kidding? I Don’t Need All That Woo-Woo Stuff! • How can we seek treatment for something we believe is a personal failure? • Acknowledging the need for help is not popular in our culture (Strong Silent type, Cowboy) • People who seek therapy may be viewed as weak • Therapists are all crazy anyway • They’ll just blame it on my mother or some other stupid thing
  22. 22. Did you know? North American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year
  23. 23. Signs and Symptoms of Depression Behaviors • Crying spells, withdrawal from others, neglect of responsibilities, loss of interest in personal appearance, loss of motivation, slow movement, use of drugs and alcohol Physical • Fatigue, lack of energy, sleeping too much or too little, overeating or loss of appetite, constipation, weight loss or gain, headaches, irregular menstrual cycle, loss of sexual desire, unexplained aches and pains P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  24. 24. Signs and Symptoms of Depression Psychological • Sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, mood swings, lack of emotional responsiveness, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, irritability • Frequent self-criticism, self-blame, pessimism, impaired memory and concentration, indecisiveness and confusion, tendency to believe others see one in a negative light, thoughts of death and suicide P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  25. 25. What Are Anxiety Disorders? Differs from normal stress and anxiety. More severe, lasts longer and interferes with work and relationships. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  26. 26. Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Physical • Cardiovascular: pounding heart, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, blushing • Respiratory: fast breathing, shortness of breath • Neurological: dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling, numbness • Gastrointestinal: choking, dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea • Musculoskeletal: muscle aches and pains (especially neck, shoulders and back), restlessness, tremors and shaking, inability to relax P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  27. 27. Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Psychological • Unrealistic or excessive fear and worry (about past and future events), mind racing or going blank, decreased concentration and memory, indecisiveness, irritability, impatience, anger, confusion, restlessness or feeling “on edge” or nervous, fatigue, sleep disturbance, vivid dreams Behavioral • Avoidance of situations, obsessive or compulsive behavior, distress in social situations, phobic behavior P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  28. 28. Symptoms of a Panic Attack • Palpitations, pounding heart, or rapid heart rate • Sweating • Trembling and shaking • Shortness of breath, sensations of choking or smothering • Chest pain or discomfort • Abdominal distress or nausea • Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint, unsteady • Feelings of unreality • Feelings of being detached from oneself • Fear of losing control or going crazy • Fear of dying • Numbness or tingling • Chills or hot flashes P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  29. 29. After the Panic Attack Ends • Offer the person help in getting information about panic attacks. • Tell the person that if the panic attack recurs, he or she should speak with an appropriate health professional. • Reassure the person that effective treatments are available for panic attacks. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  30. 30. Breathing Helps Large Breath in So breath out! P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  31. 31. Mindful Breathing HELPS in Anxiety and Depression • Wherever we go, whatever we do, we take our breath with us. Life's anchor. We can focus our attention on our breathing when we feel distressed, which will help calm our mind and our body. • The primary goal of mindful breathing is simply a calm, non-judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them. • Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight. Bring your attention to your breathing. • Imagine that you have a balloon in your tummy. Every time you breathe in, the balloon inflates. • Each time you breathe out, the balloon deflates. Notice the sensations in your abdomen as the balloon inflates and deflates. Your abdomen rising with the in-breath, and falling with the out- breath. • Thoughts will come into your mind, and that`s okay, because that is just what the human mind does. Simply notice those thoughts, then bring your attention back to your breathing. Likewise, you can notice sounds, physical feelings, and emotions, and again, just bring your attention back to your breathing. • You don`t have to follow those thoughts or feelings, don`t judge yourself for having them, or analyse them in any way. It`s okay for the thoughts to be there. Just notice those thoughts, and let them drift on by, bringing your attention back to your breathing. • Whenever you notice that your attention has drifted off and is becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted, and then gently bring the attention back to your breathing. • It`s okay and natural for thoughts to enter into your awareness, and for your attention to follow them. No matter how many times this happens, just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing. • Instead of a balloon, you might imagine breathing in the beautiful aroma of a flower, and breathing out slowly and gently by imagining blowing a candle flame to make it flicker, or blowing dandelion seeds. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  32. 32. So do GROUNDING Exercises P bar Y SAFETY Consultants Grounding the Human during high stress and anxiety Sometimes the worst stress comes from the things that are all too terribly familiar. There are times that anxiety can make even daily tasks seem insurmountable, even though I’ve done them countless times before. 54321 works well 5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. Maybe it is a bird, maybe it is pencil, maybe it is a spot on the ceiling, however big or small, state 5 things you see. 4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. Maybe this is your hair, hands, ground, grass, pillow, etc, whatever it may be, list out the 4 things you can feel. 3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This needs to be external, do not focus on your thoughts; maybe you can hear a clock, a car, a dog park. or maybe you hear your tummy rumbling, internal noises that make external sounds can count, what is audible in the moment is what you list. 2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell: This one might be hard if you are not in a stimulating environment, if you cannot automatically sniff something out, walk nearby to find a scent. Maybe you walk to your bathroom to smell soap or outside to smell anything in nature, or even could be as simple as leaning over and smelling a pillow on the couch, or a pencil. Whatever it may be, take in the smells around you. 1. Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like, gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch? Focus on your mouth as the last step and take in what you can taste.
  33. 33. More remember its yours to own What thoughts or behaviours prevent you from feeling confident about tasks you’re familiar with but which create anxiety regardless? grounding skills • If you want to stop feeling “spacey,” or you feel yourself slipping into the spiral of anxiety, try some of these helpful anxiety management techniques: • Bring up today’s newspaper on the web, notice the date. Read something fun! • Breathe slowly and steadily from your core. Imagine letting fear and worry go, evaporating along with each breath. • Trace your hands against the physical outline of your body. Experience your own presence in the world. • Call a friend and have a chat. • If you are feeling ‘stuck’, change how you’re positioned. Wiggle your fingers, tap your feet. Pay attention to the movement: You are in control of what your body is doing, right here and now. • Eat or drink something. Is it hot, or cold? Sweet, or sour? • Meditate, if that’s OK for you. Otherwise use distractions like television or music to help settle down. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  34. 34. • Use your voice. Say your name or pick up a book and read the first paragraph you find out loud. • Look at yourself in the mirror. Smile, even if that’s the last thing you feel like! How does that feel? What can you see? (If negative thoughts come to mind, write them down to look at later but let them go for now. You’re anxious enough as it is.) • Write out what’s going on. Keep writing until you start to notice it makes a difference, lets some of the things you’re anxious about out. • Take a shower/bath. Notice the sensations of the water. • Write somebody you care about an email. • Imagine yourself in a familiar, comfortable place. Feel the safety. Know it. • Take a look outside. Count the number of trees and street signs. • Exercise. Jump up and down on the spot. Try some gentle yoga, or ride a bike. • Hold onto something comforting. Maybe a blanket or an old stuffed toy. • Laugh. Even if that’s hard. Just the act of laughing about something, anything can break that spinning out of control feeling. • When you’re not too stressed, make a list of the things that provoke your anxiety. Take it to your therapist and ask them to help you find ways to desensitize you to some of those things. Then those triggers won’t be quite so powerful, and your anxiety coping skills will work better. P bar Y SAFETY Consultants
  35. 35. The last page but not last hope! Talk to your doctor or seek out a competent therapist. If not treated, research is showing anxiety and depression commonly co-exists. Both of these medical conditions can be extremely debilitating, yet both are very treatable. There is hope! P bar Y SAFETY Consultants

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