Common Reactions to Crisis

When in crisis, some individuals will experience reactions that are out of the ordinary for them.  The event may create an acute stress response which can result in a disruption of physical and psychological processes.  These reactions are normal and the experience is not uncommon.

Stressful events affect each person differently.  Sometimes reactions appear immediately after the event. Sometimes they appear a few hours or a few days later.  In some cases, weeks or months may pass before reactions appear.  Acute stress symptoms can last days, weeks, months, and occasionally longer, depending on the severity of the event or situation.

Some of the more common and normal, responses to a crisis include:

Cognitive Reactions

  • Confusion/Difficulty Concentrating
  • Difficulty Making Decisions
  • Decreased Alertness
  • Memory Lapses
  • Frequent Thoughts of the Event

Emotional Reactions

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional Numbness
  • Apathy/Boredom
  • Frustration

Physical Reactions

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Hunger or Loss of Appetite

Behavioral Reactions

  • Withdrawal from Others
  • Restlessness
  • Hyper Vigilance
  • Blaming Others
  • Substance Abuse
  • Changes in Normal Activities

Practical Tips to Help You Cope

  • Find Someone You Trust: Find supportive people (family members, friends, colleagues) and talk with them about your experience.  Don’t carry this burden alone – share it with those who care about you.
  • Give Yourself Permission to Feel: Acknowledge your feelings as they arise and that they are normal reactions.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Get enough rest and eat regularly.  Keep up your exercise routine if you have one.  Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol – they can hinder your coping abilities.
  • Know Your Limits: Avoid other stressful situations for a while.
  • Practice Relaxation: Meditate if you know how; if not, visualize a quiet scene.  You may not always get away, but you can hold a vision in your mind that will temporarily take you out of the turmoil of a stressful situation.
  • Take One Thing at a Time: For people under tension, assignments or responsibilities may suddenly seem overwhelming.  This is a temporary condition that you can work through, one step at a time.
  • Remember You Can Always Seek Professional Help: You don’t have to go through this experience alone.  Sometimes a situation is so complicated or stressful that professional assistance may be helpful.

Chat is available on business days from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST. If you would like to speak with a counselor outside of these hours, please return to the home screen and press the call button. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please proceed to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.