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.
Elevated blood pressure
Rapid heart rate
Grinding of teeth
Difficulty identifying familiar people/objects
Poor problem solving
Poor abstract thinking
Loss of time, place or person orientation
Loss of emotional control
Change in activity
Change in speech pattern
Change in usual communication
Loss/increase in appetite
Inability to rest
Nonspecific bodily complaints
Hyper-alert to environment
Startle reflex intensified
Pacing erratic movements
Change in sexual functioning
SUGGESTED POST CRITICAL INCIDENT DO’S AND DON’T’S
These are some examples of coping skills which may enhance your recovery.
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)
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.