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Did My House Fire Give Me PTSD?

Did My House Fire Give Me PTSD?

Traumatic events like a house fire can give post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to humans as well as their pets!

If you are the victim of a recent house fire it’s as important to assess your mental state as it is to assess the damage to your home.

That’s because traumatic events like a house fire can easily result in PTSD. Among the negative consequences of this condition are depression, anxiety and loss of your “zeal.”

What is PTSD?

First, we should define trauma in general. By definition, trauma is an experience or event which overwhelms the information processing capacity of any given organism. Every experience is comprised of four areas of information: behavior, sensations, affect and cognitions. In all these four areas, trauma involves a significant amount of information which needs to be processed.

Unfortunately, living creatures have a limited processing capacity for information received simultaneously. The non-processed information elements then remain active and continue to “circulate” in the information processing system so to speak, waiting to be processed.

This can lead to issues where the information is suddenly “brought back up” when a “triggering” event occurs. The triggered information then generates feelings, emotions and behaviors which are not appropriate for the situation at the time when the organism gets triggered.

Post-traumatic stress disorder refers to this chronic stressful state – where unprocessed information is commonly being recalled – that humans and animals can find themselves in after experiencing trauma. This permanent stress has a negative impact not only on the psyche, but also on the body. It leads to a weakening of the immune system and thus to an increased likelihood for experiencing infections and diseases. The state may also delay or to some degree even prevent necessary healing and regeneration processes.

PTSD Symptoms

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:

  • Over-anxious behavior
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Defensive behavior
  • Hostile, unapproachable or intimidating behavior
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Apathy
  • Loss of zest for life

PTSD may develop some time after someone has become the victim of a disaster, accident or assault. It is something that frequently afflicts first responders at the site of accidents and also humans who became witnesses to other humans undergoing great suffering.

But PTSD isn’t just for humans. It also affects dogs, which we will discuss more in a minute.

What We Know About PTSD Now

Only recently have psychologists and medical doctors really begun to investigate post-traumatic stress disorder and to develop efficient treatment modalities. We have learned a lot about it by studying first responders. These individuals are much more likely to experience PTSD on a regular basis due to the fact that they repeatedly face the worst in the course of their work.

Often in a state of extreme tenseness, they carry out their emotionally very strenuous activities, in many cases finding that they do not manage to unwind after work. As a result, they might become prone to anger and nervousness.

Since they find themselves under tremendous emotional tension and are often prevented from restful sleep owing to intruding nightmares, their partners are also subject to extreme emotional stress, which will often cause marriages and families to break. And we also now understand that PTSD doesn’t just affect humans, it can also affect pets, like dogs and cats.

How to Recognize If Your Dog Has PTSD After a House Fire

First of all, it is important to bear in mind that negative events do not automatically result in post-traumatic stress disorders. A healthy dog will be able to process most traumatic events without suffering any permanent damage.

There is reason to suspect that your dog has been traumatized by something if your dog begins to change its behavior significantly following the experience and if this altered behavior continues for more than four weeks. As a matter of principle, you should always consider the possibility of traumatization in the event of any sudden negative changes in the dog. Whether this will lead to the generation of chronic PTSD, however, you will only be able to assess after a certain amount of time.

Like any other creature, your dog is also equipped with a tremendous self-healing power both on the physical and psychological levels. Therefore the dog might take a while to process an experience like a house fire before ultimately going back to its usual self.

If this is not the case, you can assume that its processing capacity and self-healing power have been overwhelmed by what happened and that your dog needs help.

How To Overcome PTSD

If you suspect a pet has PTSD following a house fire, you should use counter conditioning to attempt to change the dog’s feelings.

If you or a family member has PTSD after a house fire, you may want to consider seeing a licensed therapist. They will be able to help you navigate through any emotional suffering.

Some things you can do on your own to cope with PTSD include:

  • Practice deep breathing to calm and relax yourself
  • Tense and relax different muscle groups throughout the body to achieve a more relaxed state
  • Practice mindfulness. This could include meditation so that you let go of stress and focus more on your immediate surroundings
  • Seek social support. Talking with friends and family can be a great way to relieve anxiety
  • Journal. Writing down your feelings can also be an effective way to deal with stress from a house fire

Selling Your House May Help

If you have a home that has been damaged in a house fire, one thing you can do to remove yourself from the stress of the situation and go on with your life is to sell the house.

We Buy Fire Damaged Houses buys fire damaged houses “as is.” That means you don’t have to go through any extensive repair process that can disrupt your life and add more stress to an already stressful situation. We also pay all cash so that you get your money fast and don’t have to wait for a resolution to your unfortunate situation.

To see if your fire damaged house qualifies for a free quote, fill out the short form below.


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