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Common Signs and Signals of a Stress Reaction

You have experienced a traumatic event. 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 aftershocks when they have passed through a horrible event.

Sometimes, the emotional aftershocks (for stress reactions) appear immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later. In some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear. The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last days, weeks, months and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event. With understanding and support from your co-workers, family and friends, the stress reactions usually pass more quickly. Occasionally, the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance from a counselor may be helpful. This does not imply mental illness or weakness but it simply indicates that this particular event was just too powerful to manage alone.

If you have physical symptoms which cause you concern, contact your physician.

  Common Signs and Signals of a Stress Reaction
Physical Mental Emotional Behavioral
Fatigue Tendency to Blame Others Anxiety Changes in Normal Activities
Insomnia Confusion Survivor Guilt/Self-Blame Change in Speech
Muscle Tremors Poor Attention Grief Withdrawal from Others
Twitches Inability to Make Decisions Denial Emotional Outbursts
Difficulty Breathing Heightened or Lowered Alertness Severe Pain (Rare) Change in Communication
Rapid Breathing Poor Concentration Fear of Loss/of Going Crazy Suspiciousness
Elevated Blood Pressure Forgetfulness Uncertainty Inability to Rest
Rapid Heartbeat Trouble Identifying Known Objects or People Loss of Emotional Control Substance Abuse
Chest Pain Increased or Decreased Awareness of Surroundings Emotional Numbness Intensified Startle Reflex
Headaches Poor Problem-Solving Depression Antisocial Acts
Visual Difficulties Loss of Sense of Time, Place or Person Lack of Capacity for Enjoyment Pacing
Nausea/Vomiting Disturbed Thinking Apprehension Erratic Movements
Thirst Nightmares Intense Anger Decreased Personal Hygiene
Hunger Inescapable Images Irritability Diminished Sexual Drive
Dizziness Flashbacks Agitation Appetite Disturbance
Excessive Sweating Suicidal Ideas Helplessness Prolonged Silences
Chills Disbelief Mistrust Accident Prone
Weakness Change in Values Feelings of Worthlessness  
Fainting Search for Meaning Apathy/Boredom  

This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you experience symptoms which cause you concern, please consult your physician.