Trauma / Critical Incident Stress

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Critical incident stress (CIS) is defined as a state of cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioral arousal that accompanies the crisis reaction (Group Crisis Intervention, Mitchell, 2006).

Most people will experience trauma or CIS in their lifetime whether it’s due to a car accident, abuse or neglect, the sudden death of a loved one, a violent criminal act, exposure to the violence of war, or a natural disaster. Emergency first responders experience such incidents on a daily basis--which can take a big toll on physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Everyone reacts to these kind of incidents differently; some of the most common symptoms of a stress reaction include poor sleep quality, increased use of alcohol or other substances, hyperarousal and irritability or anger outbursts, etc. Critical incident stress symptoms are similar to those of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though perhaps not quite as severe.

The recommended three-step approach to dealing with critical stress symptoms consists of determining the root cause of symptoms, address symptoms immediately, and take time to recover. None of those can be accomplished completely on your own, but don’t worry, you don’t have to! I’m here to help—give me a call.