Acute Stress Disorder was introduced in 1994. It occurs when a person faces a traumatic event and shortly starts experiencing anxiety symptoms. The symptoms experienced from the trauma typically occur within a month after the traumatic event occurred.
The person can also experience some dissociative symptoms after the trauma. These symptoms occur to help the mind cope with what happened by blocking out certain portions of the event. The mental state after an event that is this traumatic to incur these symptoms is very morbid at the time.
The disorder does not normally occur with minor events. Typically, an event would have to be so traumatic that the person’s mind would try to push out any thoughts of the event.
The occurrence should be where the person was faced with possible death or injury to themselves or others. This is where the dissociative symptoms can come into play. When the mind struggles with a certain episode it will try to forget it happened causing some amnesia.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is very similar to Acute Stress Disorder. Both display similar symptoms in relation to a traumatic event. The difference is with the ASD the symptoms show up a lot sooner than with PTSD. With PTSD, the person may not experience any anxiety or dissociative symptoms until later down the road when something may trigger the incident.
Symptoms – Acute Stress Disorder
As a person encounters a traumatic event, they may experience one of two symptoms. The symptoms include extreme anxiety dealing with fear, helplessness, and horror. The other symptom involves dissociative properties.
Symptoms can change over time and be combined to make the person’s state of mind worse. The symptoms normally occur within a month after experiencing the event. The duration is usually more than two days but less than four weeks. Although the symptoms can be severe, they are usually brought on fast and stop fairly soon.
At first, a person may forget certain parts of the event. The mind tricks the person into thinking the event never happened to protect the person from other feelings due to the event. As time progresses, certain actions can trigger the memories to come back. This can cause other feelings to come forth.
When a person struggles with a traumatic event, they may experience insomnia, detachment, depersonalization, and many more. Sometimes, it is very difficult for professionals to diagnose ASD. Most people experience some type of symptom after an accident.
The difference with ASD is that the person will go through a variety of these symptoms within a month after experiencing the event. The symptoms cannot have anything to do with a substance or any other event for the condition to be considered ASD.
The American Psychological Association puts out a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that lays out the criterion for an accurate diagnosis of ASD. The latest version shows what symptoms should take place when suffering from Acute Stress Disorder. The person must experience a certain set of symptoms to qualify for ASD.
There is a wide array of treatment methods for Acute Stress Disorder. A lot of people with ASD will not seek out treatment for the condition. This is due to their inability to perform every day actions. For example, someone going through ASD may have a hard time leaving their home.
This is because of their fear of the event or one similar reoccurring. This is very common of anyone going through the disorder. Family and friends are a great reassurance during this time. They can help the individual get the appropriate treatment. The quicker the person receives treatment, the quicker the symptoms will start to disappear.
The treatment for this condition can be medication or therapy. Most medications prescribed include antidepressants. Since depression is almost always common after a traumatic event, the medication helps to alleviate the symptom. Other medications given include anxiety medicines.
Once the anxiety is depleted, the person will feel much better about resuming their daily activities. It should be extremely important to continue the medication until instructed otherwise. If not, they may be prone to relapse causing the person to experience the symptoms again.
Psychotherapy is another form of effective treatment one may seek out when suffering from symptoms of ASD. There are local resources that can help a person experiencing the disorder. Occasionally, talking through the events of what happened will be the best way to recover and come to terms with a traumatic event.
It is also a good way to alleviate the mindset of a reoccurrence of the event. After the initial assessment to make sure the diagnosis is correct, therapy will immediately start helping the person cope with the event. Treatments of psychotherapy can last from one visit to many years. However, if the symptoms last for a longer span than a month, the person is most likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and not acute stress disorder.
Acute Stress Disorder is very curable. After the right treatment is conducted, the person will begin to resume normal life once again. Often times, the symptoms will start disappearing almost immediately. After a month, the symptoms should be nonexistent. Life will continue to go on as normal.
If the person is in an occupation that is faced with traumatic events often, having the right support can help the person to overcome the fear and anxiety. Most people will have only minimal memories of the traumatic event and be able to deal with it better in the future.
Some people who have success in overcoming such traumatic events will go on to help others who face the same circumstances. They will be able to empathize with other individuals going through the same issues. If the event was very severe, the person may deal with effects for a long time.
This is especially true if the person was injured during the event. If no treatment is sought out, some may depend on substance abuse to cover their feelings. Substance abuse due to ASD can lead to its own set of issues for a long time.