How to Recognize the Symptoms of Traumatic Stress

By Dr Douglas Kong


When your company goes through a very rough patch, such as that of a calamity or disaster, or when there are sudden changes in the organization, manpower or leadership of the company there is a lot of stress experienced by your leaders as well as among your personnel and work units. Your management team, various office holders and supervisors often end up running scared and look to each other for support and direction. Most people do not know what to do, and they may appear helpless and directionless.

Hence a large part of our work is to help companies and organizations to be better prepared when they meet with such circumstances. This is done by educating them about disasters and traumatic stress, and to train them in procedures that can help them to handle such contingencies better.

Among the knowledge which would equip and empower people to face traumatic stress better is to understand how people will respond when they are confronted with traumatic stress. Recent events such as the Boston bombing, the factory explosion in Texas and the earthquake in Sichuan is a reminder that traumatic stress is occurring with disturbing regularity these days, and your leadership and staff must know what to do and how to cope.

Responses to Trauma

The modern view of human responses to traumatic stress is that of a normal reaction to an abnormal event. There will be emotional, cognitive, behavioural, physiological and spiritual reactions associated with a traumatic stress. When reactions to traumatic stress occur months and years after the trauma is over, there may be flashbacks, recurrent repetitive behaviours or recurrent dreams including nightmares. Not unusually, a victim