Critical Incident Stress Management – Part 2

Thank you for your continued questions.  Some of you have asked how to know if you (or others) are impacted by stress & trauma.  There are many ways to know and this is by no means a definitive list, but a starting point to raise awareness of perhaps taking that next step, to get any help you may need.

As mentioned in my last post, first responders are the ones that run towards what most people choose to run away from.  This speaks to there personality, character, emotional and physical resilience both naturally and assisted through intentional self care & assistance when needed.  In most cases this care is mandated by the various professional fields.

But for the public who see and experience trauma, who are left with the residual & fallout of their experience, there may be some validation of how you are feeling in the lists below.  But may I also suggest, that if you for one moment think you want or need help, don’t let a list define that need. You are deserving of care, simply because you exist.

First, please know that after experiencing a traumatic event, even though the event may be over, you may now be having some strong emotional or physical reactions.  This is common, in fact quite normal to experience the “aftershocks or stress reactions” from passing through a horrible event.  This is also healthy, as your mind & body are wishing to process it through the system to release it.

Sometimes the effects start immediately, sometimes they appear hours, days, weeks or moths later.  The signs and symptoms of stress reactions may last a few days, a few weeks, a few months or longer, depending on the severity of the event.  Within these signs and symptoms, some parts last longer than others, for example the visual memory may be gone but the sounds remain etc.,  This is a personal experience with no right or wrong way to experience, so please be kind to yourself here.  There is no shame in asking for what you need, it is healthy for you to want to heal and let go of anything that doesn’t serve you.

Without further delay, please see below for some common signs & signals of effects /stress reactions:

Physically you may experience, alone or in any combination:

  • Fatigue & Nausea
  • Muscle tremors & Twitches
  • Rapid Heart Rate & Increase in Blood Pressure
  • Visual Difficulties
  • Vomiting
  • Increased Thirst
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Weakness & Dizziness & Fainting
  • Sweating & Chills
  • Difficulty Breathing, Chest Pains & Shock Symptoms * – which require immediate assistance

Cognitively you may experience, alone or in any combination:

  • Blaming someone
  • Confusion & poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Poor attention & decisions
  • Heightened or lowered alertness
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Difficulty identifying familiar people, places or objects
  • Increased or decreased awareness of surroundings
  • Problems problem solving
  • Loss of time, place or personal orientation
  • Disturbed thinking, nightmares or intrusive images while awake

Emotionally you may experience, alone or in combination:

  • Anxiety & Panic
  • Guilt & Grief
  • Denial & Apprehension
  • Emotional Shock
  • Fear & Uncertainty
  • Apprehension & Overwhelm
  • Loss of emotional control
  • Intense Anger, Irritation & Agitation
  • Inappropriate emotional response to situation

Behaviourally you may experience, alone or in combination:

  • Change in activity
  • Change in speech patterns
  • Withdrawal
  • Emotional Outbursts & Antisocial Acts
  • Suspiciousness
  • Change in usual communication patterns
  • Loss or increase of appetite
  • Change in alcohol consumption
  • Inability to rest & Pacing
  • Hyper alert to environment & easily startled
  • Non specific body complaints
  • Erratic movements
  • Change in sexual functioning

Again this list is by no means complete or intended to diagnose, but if you see things here that you or others you care about are experiencing following a traumatic event, it might be in your best interest to speak with someone.

Taking care of these sorts of things when they happen is easier and faster than denying and dealing with the after effects many years later, when they are multi layered, more complicated and tied into many other things.


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