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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): How to Identify a Traumatic Incident

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Being a human, “fear” is something that we commonly feel and experience.  Even the bravest and most courageous person in this world has it, albeit he admits it or not. Mostly, people tend to fear insects and some animals. Some are afraid of heights. There are many things in between living and dying that people are often worried about. Death itself is one of the most common fears people admit. Fear differs from one person to another and reasons behind it also vary. Some may fear something because of its appearance, smell, or any other reasons (sometimes, with no reason at all). There are also fears that come from experiences or on some sort of event that that person does not want to experience ever again. This experience may be categorized as traumatic incident and leads to a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Post-traumatic stress disorder definition

In 1980 “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) was defined as a classifiable psychiatric syndrome. The definition has undergone several revisions since then. Now, as explained on the documents published by the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) require the ‘traumatic event’ to have been an event (or events) that involved either actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the person concerned or others.’

However, the above definition may be too narrow from the view of someone working with traumatized people. WHO then reiterated its definition and states in another document that ‘where an incident exerts a traumatic effect on an individual, then it should be recognized as such and should trigger some form of support mechanism, whether or not the event comes within the previously mentioned definitions.’ (Read more information from the book, “Trauma Strikes When it Likes!” by Carol Spiers)
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Who is considered as naturally ‘at-risk’?

Although all organizations should carry risk assessments on psychiatric harm, there are some companies whose staff are always potentially at risk based on the nature of their work. Some of them are the following:

  • armed forces
  • emergency services personnel
  • bank staff
  • other staff in the financial field
  • those in retail outlets, off-license liquor stores and petrol stations, where staff may be alone in the premises outside normal shop opening hours or even all night
  • those who have contact with the general public in circumstances where there is a greater risk of violence
  • staffs in travel industry

These organizations must have contingency action plans for potential accidents and possible traumatic incidents to support those that may be involved in those cases.


Who is affected by a Traumatic Incident?

Obviously, the persons involved – victims and survivors – are directly affected by a traumatic incident. Nevertheless, there are also these persons who are indirectly affected, such as the following:

  • witnesses
  • neighbors
  • families
  • work colleagues
  • those who may be helping with the setting up of emergency shelters or, in some cases, temporary mortuaries

At a lesser or greater degree, all these people have the potential to suffer post-traumatic stress.

Trauma negatively affects people, not only in his personal life, but also in his association to the world outside himself. Every traumatized person hopes to conquer his fear and move on. However, it may take some time for them to do it. Some are strong enough to let go of the fear just by themselves, while others may need medical support. People who experienced traumatic incident must be given consideration and support all the time.
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Christine Funk

Marketing & Social Media Manager

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