Stress Disorder Symptoms & Treatment
Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a psychiatric condition that occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a death, serious injury or accident, and then develops severe anxiety, dissociative and other symptoms. This relatively new diagnosis is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but involves short-term symptoms that occur within a month of the traumatic event and last from two days to four weeks.
Patients with acute stress disorder may experience:
- Lack of emotional response
- Reduced sense of surroundings
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event through recurring images, thoughts, dreams or flashbacks
- Inability to remember parts of the trauma
- Difficulty sleeping
These symptoms persist for two days to four weeks after the traumatic event. If symptoms persist for longer than a month, the patient may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Up to 80 percent of patients with acute stress disorder will develop PTSD if their condition is left untreated. Although similar in nature, it has a greater emphasis on dissociative symptoms that detach the patient from reality.
Your doctor can diagnose acute stress disorder after a thorough review of your medical history and symptoms. The disorder is usually diagnosed by eliminating the possibility of several other conditions. In order to diagnose this condition, patients must have at least three dissociative symptoms as well as other symptom clusters necessary for a PTSD diagnosis.
Treatment for acute stress disorder usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to change the patterns of thought about the traumatic event and to alter the patient’s behavior in situations that cause anxiety. Undergoing cognitive therapy can also help this condition from developing into PTSD. Psychological debriefing, anxiety management groups and medication may also be prescribed to help treat acute stress disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
PTSD is a condition that may develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event that may have caused physical harm to someone. These events may include assault, unexpected death, an accident, war or a natural disaster.
Certain reactions are natural after these types of events, but they should decrease and eventually go away over time. People with PTSD continue to experience these reactions, sometimes in increasing amounts, long after the event in such a way that affects their daily lives. Symptoms of traumatic events can include:
- Bad dreams
- Recurring scary thoughts
- Feeling worried or guilty
- Feeling alone
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling restless
- Feeling angry
If these symptoms last for more than six months or get worse with time, you may be suffering from PTSD. These symptoms can be treated. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have PTSD.