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Looking after your Emotional Well being After you have Performed CPR

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If you’re the person giving CPR to someone it can be a shocking and traumatic event. Most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in the home, so you may have done CPR on a loved one. Or you may have performed CPR on a stranger in a public place or at your workplace. 

Everyone has different coping mechanisms after a traumatic event and most people will feel better in time. Different things might help at different times. It’s important to try lots of things and keep assessing how you’re feeling. 

What is Emotional Crisis?

Emotional crisis is a universal experience. It can happen to anyone, at any time. When we are exposed to this extraordinary situation, we develop amazing and creative ways to protect ourselves, To onlookers, these protective mechanisms may look very odd, even “crazy”. To us, they have meaning. Through using eCPR we can better understand and overcome our fear of seemingly unusual behaviour brought on by an emotional crisis. Through eCPR we learn how to form supportive connections that empower the person in emotional crisis so they are able to feel revitalized and quickly resume meaningful roles in the community.

eCPR is based on the principles found to be shared by a number of support approaches: trauma-informed care, counseling after disasters, peer support to avoid continuing emotional despair, emotional intelligence, suicide prevention, and cultural attunement. It was developed with input from a diverse cadre of recognized leaders from across the U.S., who themselves have learned how to recover and grow from emotional crises. They have wisdom by the grace of first- hand experience. Emotional CPR (eCPR) is an educational program designed to teach people to assist others through an emotional crisis by three simple steps:

C = Connecting
P = emPowering
R = Revitalizing

The Connecting process of eCPR involves deepening listening skills, practicing presence, and creating a sense of safety for the person experiencing a crisis.

The emPowering process helps people better understand how to feel empowered themselves as well as to assist others to feel more hopeful and engaged in life.

In the Revitalisating process, people re-engage in relationships with their loved ones or their support system, and they resume or begin routines that support health and wellness which reinforces the person’s sense of mastery and accomplishment, further energizing the healing process.

Other Ways To Heal

  • Talk to your friends or family about how you’re feeling. 
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy or make you feel less anxious. This might include a walk, mindfulness or sitting in the garden. 
  • Ask for help from healthcare professionals. This could be the doctors and nurses looking after your loved one or your GP. 
  • Read more on cardiac arrest (and on the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest) as well as caring for a loved one who’s had a cardiac arrest and what support you’re entitled to.
  • Read about looking after your emotional wellbeing, including counselling and other therapies. 
  • Ask your work for some time off to look after a loved one or come to terms with the experience. Find out if they have any counselling services you can use. 
  • Read our Heart Matters article to see how others coped after giving CPR.
  • Watch Sue’s video on what she found helpful after her husband had a cardiac arrest. 

When to seek further help?

The time it takes to get back to ‘normal’ will vary for everyone. You may be so focused on looking after a loved one that you forget about looking after yourself. 

There’s no right or wrong way to feel after witnessing a cardiac arrest. The feelings you have may include: 

  • shock 
  • emotional ups and downs 
  • anxiety or flashbacks 
  • blaming yourself 
  • want to be alone more than usual 
  • feeling numb or hopeless. 

Physical symptoms may include: 

  • not being able to sleep or nightmares  
  • fatigue 
  • agitation or a racing heartbeat 
  • difficulty concentrating. 

If these signs don’t go away or get worse, you should make an appointment to see your health care practitioner. It may also be helpful to read about looking after your mental health as the signs may be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. 

SADAG & Other Support

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and destigmatisation of mental illness in the country.

  • A professional counselling staff, headquartered in Sandton, Gauteng, who operate the counselling lines from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
  • Educational materials, including free multilingual brochures on mental health issues, including depression, bipolar, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, trauma, sleeping disorders, schizophrenia, teen suicide and substance abuse.
  • Speak to others with heart and circulatory disease in our HealthUnlocked online community
  • Talk to others who have witnessed a cardiac arrest through Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK’s Facebook group
  • Get in touch with your local Ambulance Service. They may be able to talk to you about your event. 




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