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.
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.
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.
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.
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 of stress might include the questioning of their religious beliefs, being angry at God and feeling purposeless.
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.
- "Police trauma, Psychological Aftermath of Civilian Combat;" Ed. John A. Violanti, Douglass Paton;1999
- P/O Rui Rodrigues NPD (ret.), B.S., M.A.