CRITICAL INCIDENT STRESS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

 

You have experienced a traumatic event or a critical incident.  This is typically an experience that causes an unusually strong emotional reaction which have the potential to interfere with your ability to function either at work or in general.  Even though the event may be over, the effects can remain or even get stronger for a short while.  It is quite normal for people to experience emotional “aftershocks” following a difficult event. 

 

Everybody is different.  Some people experience (stress) reactions immediately following an event while others may be delayed hours or even days.  The reaction (read symptoms) may persist for a day or two.  In some cases, it may take longer to process the event depending on the person and the severity of the event.  Sometimes people have little or no reaction and that is okay too.

 

It is important to have support for yourself following a critical incident.  This can take the form of family, friends and coworkers.  It is also important to reach out to the NATCA CISM Team for support.  We can help you process the event in a totally supportive, anonymous and confidential manner.  We understand your work environment and culture. 

 

PHYSICAL

Fatigue

Nausea

Muscle tremors

Twitches

Chest pain

Difficulty breathing

Elevated blood pressure

Rapid heart rate

Thirst

Headaches

Visual difficulties

Vomiting

Grinding of teeth

Weakness

Dizziness

Profuse sweating

Chills

Shock symptoms

Fainting

Etc

 

COGNITIVE

Blaming someone

Confusion

Poor attention

Poor decisions

Heightened alertness

Lowered alertness

Poor concentration

Memory problems

Hyper-vigilance

Difficulty identifying familiar people/objects

Increased/decreased awareness

Poor problem solving

Poor abstract thinking

Loss of time, place or person orientation

Disturbed thinking

Nightmares

Intrusive images

Etc.

 

EMOTIONAL

Anxiety

Guilt

Grief

Denial

Severe panic

Emotional shock

Fear

Uncertainty

Loss of emotional control

Depression

Inappropriate emotions

Apprehensions

General anxiety

Feeling overwhelmed

Intense anger

Agitation

Etc

 

BEHAVIORAL

Change in activity

Change in speech pattern

Withdrawal

Emotional outbursts

Suspiciousness

Change in usual communication

Loss/increase in appetite

Alcohol consumption

Inability to rest

Antisocial acts

Nonspecific bodily complaints

Hyper-alert to environment

Startle reflex intensified

Pacing erratic movements

Change in sexual functioning

Etc.

SUGGESTED POST CRITICAL INCIDENT DO’S AND DON’T’S

 

These are some examples of coping skills which may enhance your recovery.

 

DO NOT

 

Drink alcohol excessively

 

Use controlled or illegal substances to feel better

 

Visit the crash site or watch or read news of the event

 

Over eat comfort food such as sweets, carbs and fatty food (bad fats)

 

Over caffeinate

 

Overuse tobacco (if you smoke or chew)

 

Withdraw from your support network (family, friends, co-workers)

 

Stay away from work just because

 

Look for easy answers to explain the incident

 

Have unrealistic expectations for recovery

 

Judge yourself harshly for having a reaction or

Think you are crazy

 

 

DO THE FOLLOWING IF POSSIBLE

 

Expect the incident to bother you

 

Maintain a good diet.  Don’t forget to eat!!

 

Get back into normal routines

 

Take time for leisure activities

 

Remind yourself that post-trauma consequences are normal

 

Learn as much as possible about critical incident stress.

 

Spend time with family and friends

 

Use your available resources like the NATCA CISM Team

 

Remember that others are likely having the same experience post incident.