Critical Incident Stress, also referred to as CIS, can affect people in a variety of ways. It is important to remember that not everyone is affected in the same way or to the same degree. A critical incident for one person, may not affect in the same way, another colleague who was involved.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS can include fatigue, nausea, stomach upsets, rapid heart rate, sweating, shakiness, and lack of coordination.

EMOTIONAL RESPONSES often are feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, fear, depression, grief, self-doubt, and a general feeling of detachment and numbness.

COGNITIVE RESPONSES can affect thinking, bringing about problems with short term memory and one's ability to concentrate. It may be difficult to make decisions, solve problems, or have an accurate sense of time.

BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS can include sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits, nightmares or recurring dreams, becoming withdrawn, changes in sexual drive, increased use of alcohol or tobacco and any out-of-character behaviour.

Spiritual DISTRESS symptoms can include anger at God, loss of belief in a just world, loss of a sense of purpose, doubts about the existence of a benign God, belief that one has been abandoned by God, withdrawal from faith community and / or hallucinations of a religious / spiritual nature.

It is normal for symptoms to last as long as three to four weeks. If they are very severe, interfere with tasks of daily living or last beyond four weeks, professional counselling may be necessary.