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Acute Stress Disorder
Anxiety Disorders >> Acute Stress Disorder

ACUTE STRESS DISORDER

WHAT IS ACUTE STRESS DISORDER?
Acute stress disorder develops within one month after an individual experiences or sees an event involving a threat or actual death, serious injury, or physical violation to the individual or others, and responded to this event with strong feelings of fear, helplessness or horror.

Psychiatric or emotional trauma refers to an experience that is emotionally painful, distressful or shocking, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects. It is essentially a normal response to an extreme event. It involves the creation of emotional memories about the distressful event that are stored deep within the brain. In general, it is believed that the more direct the exposure to the traumatic event, the higher the risk for emotional harm.

SYMPTOMS OF ACUTE STRESS DISORDER
For a diagnosis of acute stress disorder, symptoms must persist for a minimum of two days to up to four weeks within a month of the trauma.

A person may be described as having acute stress disorder if other mental disorders or medical conditions do not provide a better explanation for the person's symptoms. If symptoms persist after a month, the diagnosis becomes post-traumatic stress disorder.

Symptoms include:
  • Lack of emotional responsiveness, a sense of numbing or detachment
  • A reduced sense of surroundings
  • A sense of not being real
  • Depersonalization or a sense of being dissociated from self
  • An inability to remember parts of the trauma, "dissociative amnesia"
  • Increased state of anxiety and arousal such as a difficulty staying awake or falling asleep
  • Trouble experiencing pleasure
  • Repeatedly re-experiencing the event through recurring images and/or thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashbacks
  • Purposeful avoidance of exposure to thoughts, emotions, conversations, places or people that remind them of the trauma
  • Feelings of stress interfering with functioning; social and occupational skills are impaired affecting the patient's ability to function, pursue required tasks and seek treatment







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