Table of Contents
Stress may be defined as a psycho-physiological response to a perceived threat. People who encounter stressors, or perceived threats,
experience a stress response. That response includes physical, emotional, and cognitive components in both an immediate and long-term process.
A stress response involves, among other physiologic changes, the body's sympathetic nervous system secreting adrenalin and/or the adrenal
glands secreting cortisol in an attempt to make our body or behavior more capable of dealing with threats to our well-being. The powerful effect of these
hormones when prolonged can have an adverse impact on health. For example, cortisol is a powerful immunosuppressive.
Trauma may be considered as the psychological effect of severe or prolonged stress. Generally this involves experiencing or witnessing
threats of death or serious injury to either self or others. What is "traumatized" in this experience is the sense of the self as safe, protected, or invulnerable.
Various behavioral and emotional effects are common in response to trauma. These effects generally fall along a continuum, but may be quite severe and
disruptive to daily role functioning and overall quality of life. Fortunately, they frequently remit with time and supportive interpersonal interaction.
However, for some people, symptoms may persist leading to potential problems associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In such cases,
professional treatment has been found to be helpful in either eliminating or reducing symptoms.
- HHS Disaster Behavioral Health Concept of Operations February 2014
- World Health Organization (WHO), Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings 2007 (Created to enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency.)
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Psychosocial Implications of Disaster or Terrorism on Children: A Guide for the Pediatrician, 3 Sep 05 (In this report, specific children's responses are delineated, risk factors for adverse reactions are discussed, and advice is given for pediatricians to ameliorate the effects of disaster on children.)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism - A Training Manual, 2004 (Provides guidance to mental health professionals in building an emergency preparedness program to respond to mass violence and terrorism.)
- Mental Health and Mass Violence: Evidence-Based Early Psychological Intervention for Victims/Survivors of Mass Violence, 2002 (A Workshop to Reach Consensus on Best Practices. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, and Veterans Affairs, and the American Red Cross.)