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Are There Mental Health Risks To The EMT Profession?

Are There Mental Health Risks To The EMT Profession?

People in the EMT or EMS service have to live with a certain degree of edge. As soon as the bell goes off, or the call for help is made, an EMT professional has to jump into action. All of their training, experience, and energy has to come to surface. There is no room for distraction or personal issue when someone’s life or health is on the line in an emergency situation. EMT’s live with a preparation for the worst but can never fully prepare themselves for how bad a situation may potentially be. Being on call, needing to be on point for performance, and being in the face of some of life’s more tragic moments can create an excess of stress for these professionals. Adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones, are in a constant production for this life living in the moment. Overtime, the stress and weight of responsibility that comes with EMT work can become exhausting. Without proper stress management or mental health care, high stress can lead to burnout.

Burn Out

There are varying opinions on what burnout is and how burnout happens, because burnout can look different for each individual. Ultimately, hitting burnout means no longer being able to perform or function at the necessary level for one’s career. The brain has become exhausted with stress, minimizing cognitive functioning. As well, the body may become exhausted, leading to lethargy, adrenal burnout, illness, or more.


Depression can develop in an EMT’s life for different reasons, including genetic inheritance, life events, and stress. If an EMT is experiencing chronic burnout, the loss of energy, health, motivation, and passion for their job might contribute to depression. Moreover, what an EMT witnesses day in and day out on the job can be extremely difficult to comprehend or cope with. Trying to cope with a day’s work in the emergency field can also lead to depression.


EMT’s have access to drugs, doctors, and other resources for addictive substances. To cope with the stress of their job, any depression or other co-occurring mental health disorders, EMT’s might turn to substance abuse.


Being a first responder means encountering potentially gruesome and difficult circumstances on a regular basis. PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, can happen to anybody, regardless of what they encounter. EMT’s will respond to trauma situations differently, however, many of them may respond with symptoms of PTSD or a full diagnosis. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are often co-occurring with PTSD, creating a complex diagnosis needing professional treatment.

Our Professionals Treatment Program was designed by professionals for professionals using the best practices proven to change lives. Call the Center For Professional Recovery today: 855-422-4129

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