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Signs & Symptoms of Stress in Police Personnel

Updated July 19, 2017

Law enforcement is an extremely stressful field, and some police officers become overwhelmed by the daily stress of the job. Fortunately, there are a number of symptoms that can help identify when a police officer is being overstressed.

Behavioural symptoms

Overstressed police officers may experience drastic changes in their behaviour. Some of these changes may include a decreased interest in normal leisure activities, sex and appetite, along with increased irritability and trouble sleeping.

Emotional symptoms

Some emotional signs of an overly stressed officer can be anxiety, explosive anger or rage and a deep sadness or depression. They may also become overly sensitive or appear to have emotionally shut down.

Physical symptoms

Overly stressed officers may exhibit signs of shock, fatigue, digestive problems, rapid heartbeat or chest pains with no physical or medical reason for them. They may also begin to experience unexplained breathing difficulties or dizziness and may start sweating excessively.

Cognitive symptoms

Some cognitive symptoms may be disorientation, indecision, poor concentration, memory loss and pessimism. Officers may also experience decreased self-esteem, thoughts of harming themselves or others and a feeling that they are losing control or becoming isolated from everyone around them.

Spiritual symptoms

Spiritual symptoms of stress might include the questioning of their religious beliefs, being angry at God and feeling purposeless.

Work performance

Overly stressed officers may become apathetic or experience an increase in absenteeism. They also may obsess about little things or experience a lack of motivation to do the job.

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About the Author

Rui Rodrigues is a native of New Jersey and holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a Master of Arts in history, both from Rutgers University. He has worked in varied fields such as retail, real estate and day trading. He is a retired Newark Police Officer.