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  • Writer's pictureDr. Carrie Steiner

Cumulative Stress & Policing

The average officer in a small to midsize department will see 188.5 critical incidents during a 20-year career, the average person experiences 1 (74%) in their lifetime. Officers are twice as likely to develop depression than the average citizen, and 4 ½ times more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At the same time, 70% of people in critical incidents will recover from stressors without any assistance. It is important to know signs and symptoms of cumulative stress and how to seek appropriate assistance for yourself or a co-worker during your years of duty and maintain your resilience.


· Desensitization

· Lack of empathy

· Numbness/Callousness

· Hypervigilance

· Suspiciousness of others

· Internalization (mental health issues: anxiety, depression, poor sleep)

· Externalization (aggression, addiction, risk taking)

· Inability to enjoy activities

· Anxiety

· Irritable

· Isolation

If you recognize any signs of distress, contact FRWC: 630-909-9094 or


· Tactical Breathing

· Exercise (minimum 3 times a week)

· Increase of vegetables, fruits, and whole foods (5-7 a day)

· Prioritize Sleep (7-9 hours)

· Drink water/hydrate (8 glasses)

· Use stress reduction apps: Calm, Headspace, Breathe2Relax

· Grounding exercises: Use 5 senses

· Distraction Techniques

· Discover a new hobby or sport

· Find safe places to relax

· Treat family/friends special

· Know when to ask for help

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