The researchers also confirmed a finding from their earlier studies of combat veterans that those who feel the event is unreal as it unfolds, as if they were in a dream, a movie or a play have a higher risk of developing symptoms.
The study also found that although only seven percent of officers are currently reporting significant problems with PTSD symptoms, more than 45 percent of police officers reported sleep disturbances typical of patients in insomnia clinics, according to the studys principal investigator Charles Marmar, MD, associate chief of staff for mental health at SFVAMC, and UCSF professor and vice chair of psychiatry.
The study of 741 police officers from New York, Oakland and San Jose is being published in several journal articles including a recent issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, and was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, managed by Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE).
At the moment of confronting a personal life threat or witnessing gruesome injuries to others, police officers vary in their immediate emotional reactions. We found that police officers who reported greater grief, horror, and panic-like symptoms extreme terror, feeling they might die, experiencing a loss of control over their emotions, and physical symptoms such as a pounding heart or shaking hands were at much higher risk for PTSD symptoms later on, Marmar said.
Surprisingly, a police officers emotional response at the time of a traumatic event was much more important in determining their risk than the total nu
Contact: Kevin Boyd
University of California - San Francisco