Is there an OSI in your family?

Often, the first people to notice that something has gone wrong are family members. It is spouses, children, parents and other relatives who first begin to see changes in behaviour and mood that may indicate that someone is suffering from an operational stress injury. There can be many reasons for these changes, but if you have a gut feeling of concern and believe that your loved one has been exposed to stress in the course of military service, you may wish to inquire about professional help.

The symptoms of an OSI can begin any time following an event, but you will likely notice them within the first few months. Typical indicators in the affected person may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Memory problems
  • Excessive concern with safety
  • Anger
  • Emotional distance from loved ones
  • Isolation and lack of interest in social life

These symptoms undermine an individual’s ability to function in everyday life and at work, and render him or her unable to meet the needs of family or couple relationships. Family members often start to readjust their behavior in a way that creates ongoing distress. This in turn can affect normal family roles and boundaries, creating problems in communication, parent-child relationships, and everyday family life.