In medicine, a crisis is a sudden and significant change, either affecting the overall mental state of a person, or in the progress of a particular condition. A crisis may be sudden onset of severe pain or other symptoms; or it may be sudden end turning point of a particular disease, which was commonly the case with pneumonia in the time before antibiotics were available.
Most usually a crisis is a sudden change in an individual’s everyday life which may cause problems. A personal disaster or major stress, for example the sudden loss of a wife or husband, may make a person more susceptible to physical and mental illness, and more susceptible to personal changes. This is often necessary so that a person can continue to develop and adapt to the changes in life.
To assist a person to cope with the initial stages of personal upheaval, specific forms of psychological support, known as crisis intervention is used especially after bereavement.
In the last twenty years great advances have been made in the establishment and use of resources related to crises intervention.
As many people now feel more isolated, even in crowd, they very often have no one to turn to for help. The trend in society has been away from extended families; people move home more frequently; and there has been a decline in the usual supportive role of the family doctor, family priest or ‘the close friend’.
For those suffering from stress the main support has come from phone counseling, drop-in centers and various refuges such as those for women and adolescents. Help is also available in the form of general services like the well-known ‘lifeline’ and there is specific assistance for problem drinkers, and for those who abuse their children.
The prime role of crisis intervention is sympathetic listening. However, follow-up to meet practical needs often has also to be undertaken; for instance, to avoid possible child abuse it may be necessary to place the threatened children where they can be safely looked after for some time.
People in crisis often need formal counseling to enable to identify and deal with their difficulties most appropriately. When the crisis is severe, the person affected is more prone to develop psychological or psychiatric problems. In addition to counseling, medical treatment, such as antidepressant medications, may be required. Long-term support and assistance, when needed, can be provided by the local health authorities and other bodies which continue the work done by crisis intervention agencies, many of which are voluntary.
How to Handle a Medical Crisis, Time Magazine, Alice Park, Jul. 11, 2007
Medical Crisis … Take control of your healthcare!, Website 101, Edward B. Toupin