What is OSI
An operational stress injury (OSI) is any constant psychological problem resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Forces (CF) or as a member of the RCMP. OSI is used to describe a broad range of problems which can include diagnosed medical conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other conditions that may be less severe, but still interfere with daily functioning.
OSIs can affect significant others in the person's life, leading to marital and family problems. OSIs can also be associated with physical symptoms such as stomach upset, headaches, or sleep problems and worsen chronic pain problems.
The symptoms and the injuries themselves vary from person to person as well as the nature of their experiences. For active CF members and Veterans, the injury may occur following combat duties, after serving in a war zone, in peacekeeping missions or following other traumatic or serious events not tied to combat.
RCMP officers may have been exposed to traffic accidents or situations of violence or may have been involved in a shooting or injured in the line of duty.
What is a Traumatic Event?
"Trauma" is different for everyone, but there are a number of events that can cause significant distress. These include, but are not limited to:
- threat of death
- serious injury
- viewing or handling of bodies
- death or serious injury of a close friend, colleague or family member
- exposure to a potentially contagious disease or toxic agent
- an action or inaction resulting in serious injury or death for others
What are Common Reactions?
Most people experience strong reactions after traumatic events which may include:
- difficulties concentrating, disorientation and/or memory problems
- sleep disturbances or excessive alertness
- being easily startled
- trouble controlling moods
- difficulties with relationships
- painfully reliving the event (while awake or asleep)
- intrusive thoughts about the event
- feelings of panic or anxiety
- a desire to avoid anything attached to the event
- feeling sad, tearful, hopeless, depressed, angry and/or guilty
- increased consumption of alcohol or abuse of other substances
- a change in personality
Often these reactions resolve themselves or go away soon after the event. However, symptoms may continue to be experienced by some individuals.