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Traumatic Stress: How Anxious are You?

Ever get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something bad is going to happen? Ever get it during a family BBQ or away from your patrol car? We all do from time to time but depending on how often you get that feeling you may find that you are suffering from anxiety.

First you have to understand what anxiety is and what it is not. Going to the dentist for a root canal and feeling nervous is not anxiety. Constantly worrying about things you can’t control or things that are so outlandish they will likely never happen is anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety there are things you can do to help you cope but the first step is knowing that you do in fact suffer from anxiety.

I took a quiz to determine my level of anxiety and was a little shocked to find that, according to that quiz, I suffer from severe anxiety. My score was a 17. This is not surprising since I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD and the two go hand in hand. The quiz is on the Psych Central website and consists of seven short questions.

If you decide to take the test then be honest and accurate in your answers. No benefit will come from trying to receive a lower score. After you receive you score scroll down and find out what steps you can take, particular to your level of anxiety, which can help you.

Anxiety comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and can vary greatly from person to person. For some anxiety means constant worry and fear while for others it can be intense apprehension at the thought of going to a party. There is no one size fits all for anxiety. According to the non-profit website Help Guide here are some symptoms to look for if you think you suffer from anxiety:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Feeling as if your mind has gone blank
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Watching for signs of danger
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

Of the above symptoms the one most dangerous to cops, I feel, is watching for signs of danger. We are taught from the academy to practice officer safety and to constantly be aware of our surroundings and the potential threats they contain. Admit it, the hardest part about going to lunch with a bunch of cops is flipping to see who gets the chair in the corner facing the door!

The reason I feel this symptom is so dangerous to us is that it becomes such a part of our personality that we can’t separate ourselves from it.  We are constantly looking at each person we encounter to determine what kind of threat they pose; even if they pose no threat at all. What that does to us physically is makes us tired and this leads to other symptoms such as irritability.

Take the time to determine if you indeed do suffer from anxiety and at what level you are at. Take the steps recommended to reduce your anxiety and help you cope with it. The first step is knowing there is a problem combined with admitting the problem. If you allow anxiety to go unchecked then you run the risk of severe health risks, both mentally and physically. Stay safe out there!

About Russel L.

Russel Langley is a freelance journalist and medically retired deputy sheriff with a degree in English.  He uses his more than 20 years experience in law enforcement to enhance his journalistic endeavors. He lives in Oak Ridge, TN, the home of the Manhattan Project, and can be reached at russl68@gmail.com.

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