Common Signs of a Stress Response

I'm attending a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) group training, and found some worksheets very beneficial. The breakdown of symptoms or reactions to acute stress can help individuals understand how differently people can respond to a traumatic event. I just wanted to share the PDF here:

OCDE Critical Incident Info Sheet

The symptoms are categorized into:

  • physical*
  • cognitive
  • emotional
  • behavioral
  • spiritual (not on worksheet)

*may indicate need for medical evaluation

One part that I'd like to emphasize is the responses to trauma are normal, and vary in severity from person to person. Symptoms can last from days, to months, or even longer.

"Occasionally, the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance may be necessary. This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular event was just too powerful for the person to manage by himself."

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We are human, and with life, emotionally intense experiences may happen. These events could be minor when isolated, but may accumulate stress responses over time. There is so much a person can handle, and as stated before, it does not mean a person is weak or crazy. Life is stressful, and our culture has not done a good job promoting self-care or emotional wellness. If the need arises for additional wellness support, many agencies and professionals will be prepared to do so.