Acute Stress Disorder: What Is It? 

In most cases, acute stress disorder appears one month after a severe occurrence. It may last anywhere from three days to a month. 

A distressing event may be experienced directly or indirectly by those with acute stress disorder. For instance, direct exposure means being subjected to violence, major harm, and the danger of death. Seeing a current event can be considered indirect exposure. discovering what happened to friends or family members. Individuals feel increased anxiety, avoid things that remind them of the terrible occurrence, and mentally replay it. 

This disorder’s sufferers could have dissociative symptoms. For instance, they could have an emotional distance from themselves. People might think they don’t exist.

In order to identify those people who might later acquire post-traumatic stress disorder, the diagnostic of acute stress disorder was created. In reference to the similarities between the reactions of soldiers who sustained injuries to their central nervous systems and concussions brought on by exploding bombs or shells, the disease Acute stress disorder has more recently come to understand that people may experience PTSD-like symptoms for a brief period of time just after a trauma.

Sign and Symptoms 

When symptoms persist for at least three days and do not last more than one month following a distressing encounter, acute stress disorder is diagnosed. If symptoms persist for more than a month, post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed. 

The DSM-5 divides the symptoms of acute stress disorder into five groups. When a patient exhibits nine or more symptoms, they are diagnosed with the disorder: 

• Intrusion symptoms, such as distressing and persistent nightmares or traumatic recollections. 

• Symptoms of a bad mood—a chronic inability to feel good emotions like pleasure or love

Time slowing, perceiving oneself from the perspective of an outsider, or feeling confused are dissociative symptoms. 

Arousal symptoms include trouble falling or staying asleep, irritable behaviour, or difficulties concentrating. Avoidance symptoms include avoiding memories, thoughts, feelings, people, or places connected to the trauma. 

Acute stress disorder sufferers may also feel a great lot of shame for not being able to stop the trauma or for not being strong enough to do it.

quicker ability to recover from the trauma. In the month following a trauma, panic attacks are frequent. Acute stress disorder in children can cause anxiety while the child is away from their careers.


The key to reducing suffering and starting the healing process after trauma is to seek care as soon as possible. The therapy that has shown the most success in treating acute stress disorder is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). There are two main parts to CBT. Its initial goal is to alter cognitions or cognitive patterns related to the traumatic event. Second, it aims to change how people behave in anxious circumstances. In addition to reducing the signs and symptoms of acute stress disorder, cognitive behavioural treatment aims to halt the progression of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Acute stress disorder therapy options have included include groups for anxiety control and psychological debriefing. After a traumatic event, psychological debriefing involves a significant therapeutic intervention so that the traumatised person can “speak it all out.” While some people have found this type of intervention to be beneficial, others have felt that talking about the event that initially upset them re-traumatized them.

Psychotropic drugs can help with increased arousal and anxiety symptoms. Acute stress disorder symptoms can be managed and eventually reduced with the aid of stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, which can also assist people avoid developing acute stress disorder in the future.


In order to be at risk for an acute stress disorder, a person must have been exposed to a traumatic experience. 

Why only a tiny percentage of those exposed experience a stress condition is unclear. 

If a person has previously been diagnosed with a mental disorder, believes the traumatic experience to be very serious, uses avoidance as a coping mechanism when they are distressed, or has a history of trauma, they may be more likely to develop stress disorder. 

Acute stress disorder is more common in women than in men. 

The stress response is a physiological reaction that the body has in place to deal with sudden stress. 

When a scary or fearful event occurs, the body automatically responds by either facing the threat head-on, becoming paralysed, or running away from it.

A nearly rapid increase in heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, respiration, metabolism, and tensing of muscles are the distinguishing features of the acute stress response. Mobilizing for action requires increased metabolic rate and cardiac output. 

Psychologically, focus is drawn to the danger. After someone encounter a trauma, they may be more watchful for new risks and perceive constant hazards in their environment based on anticipated danger (due to intrusive memories or dreams, for example), and therefore experience the acute stress reaction more frequently than before.

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