Elevated Blood Pressure
Rapid Heart Rate
Grinding of Teeth
Poor Problem Solving
Poor Abstract Thinking
Disorientated to Time, Place, or Person
Difficulty Identifying Objects or People
Heightened or Lowered Alertness
Change in Awareness of Surroundings
Loss of Emotional Control
Inappropriate Emotional Response
Change in Social Activity
Change in Speech Patterns
Loss or Increase of Appetite
Unable to Rest
Hyper-Alert to Environment
Increased Substance Use (e.g., alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, recreational drugs)
Changes in usual communications
Critical Incident Stress
Managing emotions and stress is just as important as physical well-being and safety. SEASAR maintains a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team, and links to health professionals in the community. Here are some helpful tips from the Alberta Critical Incident Advisory Council.
After a Traumatic Event
You have experienced a traumatic event or critical incident (any event that causes unusually strong emotional reactions and that have the potential to interfere with the ability to function normally).
Even though the event may be over, you may now be experiencing, or may experience later, some strong emotional or physical reactions. It is very common and quite normal for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have passed through a horrible event.
Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately after, a few hours later or days after traumatic event. In some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear.
The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, weeks, months, or longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event.
The understanding and support of loved ones usually causes the stress reaction to pass more quickly. Occasionally, the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance may be necessary.
Things to Try
Within the first 24 to 48 hours, periods of appropriate exercise, alternated with relaxation, will alleviate some of the physical symptoms.
Structure your time and keep busy
Remember that you are normal, having a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Don’t start labeling yourself as crazy.
Reach out to friends and family. Talk to them and spend time with others. People do care.
Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs and/or alcohol. You don’t need to complicate this with a substance abuse problem.
Maintain as normal a schedule as possible.
Help your co-workers as much as possible by sharing feelings and checking out how they are doing.
Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others.
Keep a journal; write your way through those sleepless hours.
Do things that feel good to you.
Realize those around you are under stress.
Don’t make any big life changes.
Do make as many daily decisions as possible that will give you a sense of control over your life.
Get plenty of rest. Don’t try to fight reoccurring thoughts, dreams, or flashbacks – they are normal and will decrease over time and become less painful.
Eat well-balanced and regular meals (even if you don’t feel like it).
For Family Members and Friends
Spend time with the traumatized person
Offer your assistance and listening ear if they have not asked for help
Reassure them that they are safe
Help them with everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, caring for family and minding children
Give them some private time
Don’t take their anger or other feelings personally
Don’t tell them that they are “lucky it wasn’t worse”. Such statements do not console a traumatized person. Instead, tell them that you are sorry such an event occurred and you want to understand and assist them.
Common Signs & Symptoms of a Stress Reaction