By: Doctor Gary Brown, Los Angeles, Expert, Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Quite often when a critical incident has occurred it is obvious that people are so impacted that it is clear that they need support. They are displaying some overt signs and symptoms and their ability to function has or may become compromised. In addition, they may – either directly or indirectly – verbally or non-verbally, be expressing a need and a desire for help and support. It is at this moment that a crisis response should be initiated.
There are also those times when the need may not be obvious. There may have been a dramatic event and it may or may not be clear what the degree of the impact is. The key here in making a determination as to whether or not you have had a critical incident is not so much based upon the event itself, but is really dependent upon how people are RESPONDING to the event.
Common Signs and Symptoms:
Here are some typical signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of critical incident stress during and after exposure.
- feeling faint
- chest pain
- elevated blood pressure
- tachycardia – rapid heart rate
- muscle tremors
- shock symptoms
- grinding of teeth
- clenched jaw
- visual difficulties
- difficulty breathing
- persistent intrusive images
- inappropriate blaming of someone
- poor problem solving
- poor abstract thinking
- poor attention/decisions
- poor concentration/memory impairment
- disorientation of time, place, or person
- difficulty identifying familiar object or people
- heightened or lower levels of alertness
- increased or decreased awareness of surroundings
- disturbances in sleep including insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, night terrors, prolonged inability to sleep, excessive sleep
- intense angry outbursts
- emotional shock
- feeling overwhelmed
- loss of emotional control
- inappropriate emotional responses
- anti-social acts
- abuse of self and others
- inability to rest
- intensified pacing
- erratic movements
- changes in social activity
- changes in speech patterns
- loss or increase of appetite
- hyper alert to environment
- increased susceptibility to self-medication through alcohol and/or drugs
- changes in usual pattern of communications
IMPORTANT NOTE: SOME OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS MAY INDICATE THE NEED FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION. IF SOMEONE APPEARS TO BE IMPAIRED MEDICALLY, IMMEDIATELY CONTACT A PHYSICIAN.
RULE OF THUMB: WHEN IN DOUBT – CALL.
With permission of Doctor Gary Brown Symptoms and Definition of Trauma. This reference also includes what to look for within the company environment.