Have you been involved in a dive incident?


 Recreational diving is supposed to be fun.

However, from time to time we all get into situations that are outside our "comfort zone". If you have been involved in a dive incident where you, your dive buddy or someone in your group had a negative experience while on a dive, you may be having some reactions you weren't expecting. This is especially true when you or your buddy panicked, nearly drowned, died, experienced an "out of air" episode, or took a DCI hit. Incidents like these can be upsetting, overwhelming, even terrifying.
Although it rarely gets talked about, a dive incident can be traumatic. Afterwards we are often left feeling a jumble of emotions. In simple terms a traumatic event is one that is so unusual that your mind has trouble making sense of what has happened. As we try to catch up or process what happened we experience a number of reactions that are quite normal. Typically, these involve both revisiting the events in different ways as we try to sort out what happened, and trying to cope with the strong feelings that go with our recollections of the episode.


Your reaction to the dive incident may include:

  • feeling numb, "I can't feel anything"
  • being in a daze, walking around in a fog
  • seems like everything & everyone is unfamiliar
  • feeling like you are an outside observer of your own body, thoughts, & feelings
  • feeling tired, depressed, drained of energy
  • having trouble enjoying events that used to be pleasurable
  • being unable to remember important aspects of the dive incident
  • being extremely anxious in different ways:
    • irritable, easily upset, crying
    • muscle tension, stomach in knots, headache, nausea
    • afraid to be alone
    • difficulty sleeping
    • easily startled
    • poor concentration
  • reminders of the dive incident triggering strong reactions (can include thoughts, feelings & images)
  • "flashbacks", dreams or nightmares of the dive incident
  • recurring intrusive thoughts
  • avoiding situations that remind you of the dive incident
  • intense feelings:
    • fear
    • helplessness
    • loss of control
    • vulnerability
    • guilt
    • anger
    • violation


If you continue to have trouble getting over what happened, watch for:

Dive stuff -

  • taking more risks than you used to (e.g., ignoring DECO or safety stops, sucking your bottle dry or near dry, spur of the moment decision at depth to penetrate wreck)
  • increased air consumption on dives
  • feeling nervous, anxious in or near the water
  • avoiding or passing up opportunities to go diving
  • loss of interest in diving & dive related activities (e.g., watching diving TV shows, reading dive magazines, attending dive club meeting)

Other stuff -

  • deepening depression (including changes in sleep pattern, appetite, sex habits)
  • increased alcohol or drug use
  • withdrawal from family, friends & social activities
  • loss of a sense of attachment to others & difficulty trusting others
  • continuing physical complaints, medical problems
  • work problems

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