Acute Stress Disorder

Dane O'Leary December 7, 2019

Acute Stress Disorder and Trauma Treatment

A Brief Introduction to Acute Stress Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder is a disorder that occurs after a traumatic event. This event impairs an individual’s life. The individual may have personally experienced the traumatic event or just witnessed it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordersfifth edition, a traumatic event includes specific parameters, including the following:

  • Trauma: the experience of or the threat of the experience of death, serious injury, or sexual violation, specifically in one or more of the following ways:
    • The individual directly experiences the traumatic event
    • The individual bears witness as the traumatic event happens to someone else
    • Learning the traumatic event has happened to a family member or close friend
    • Repeated exposure to details or evidence of the traumatic event that has happened to someone else

Traumatic injury impacts the entire body is different ways. It can make someone feel guilt, fear, shame and pain about what happened. It can cause physical pain and impact relationships. Trauma can also limit a person’s ability to make good decisions and fully process thoughts. In some cases, it will change the way someone sees the world and understands society. 

A traumatic event can cause such emotional and psychological trauma that if it is left untreated, an individual may develop other severe disorders. An individual may develop major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder, or a psychotic disorder. Any of these are a sign that a person needs treatment to help process and manage trauma. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for treating trauma from multiple dimensions.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder?

Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder can begin immediately after a traumatic event. the individual experiences disturbance in the form of intrusion, negative mood, dissociation, avoidance, or arousal in relation to the traumatic event for at least three days through one month after the traumatic event. As well, the disturbance causes distress or impairment in the areas of social, education, occupational, or other significant areas of functioning. Finally, such disturbance is not better explained by the presence of another medical condition, the use of substances or prescribed medications, or by psychosis. The symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder include:

  • Symptomology: the individual experiences nine or more of the following symptoms across the taxonomy of intrusion, negative mood, dissociation, avoidance, and arousal in response or reaction to the traumatic event:
    • Intrusion Symptoms: repetitive and distressing memories of, related to, or reminiscent of the traumatic event; repetitive and distressing dreams of, related to, or reminiscent of the traumatic event; exacting memories of the traumatic event wherein the individual feels as if the traumatic event is reoccurring in the present moment; negative somatic reactions to internal and external reminders of the traumatic event
    • Negative Mood: the loss of the ability to feel positive, joyous feelings in situations that are historically pleasing to you
    • Dissociative Symptoms: a sense of holding a part of the self in abeyance, is if separate from current reality, looking at the self as if outside of the self; dissociative amnesia, that is, the inability to recall significant aspects of the traumatic event 
    • Avoidance Symptoms: the attempt to thwart negative memories, thoughts, feelings, or associations in relation to the traumatic event 
What are the Differences Between Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

In both Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD, a traumatic event occurs that leads to changes in mood and feelings. However, the main difference between Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD has to do with the timing and duration: Acute Stress Disorder refers to the first month after the traumatic event occurs, whereas PTSD refers to disturbance after a month has passed since the traumatic event.  A diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder is a risk factor for PTSD. However, the majority of people diagnosed with PTSD weren’t previously diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder.

Acute Stress Disorder Treatment at Silicon Beach Treatment Center 

Trauma therapy is a type of therapy used by counselors and doctors to help someone overcome a traumatic event. There is not one specific thing that defines trauma therapy. It includes many different types of therapy that are used separately or together to help one deal with the traumatic event. Trauma treatment is helpful in reducing the symptoms of the trauma. Trauma treatment can help one face what happened in the past and move towards focusing on today and not what happened in the past. Treatment also assists one with learning to function in daily life, such as reducing behavior that tends to get in the way of living every day life. Trauma treatment also can help one overcome addictions that are a cause of the traumatic event. ​

At Silicon Beach Treatment Center, we offer treatment for trauma, including acute stress disorder treatment. Our task when treating any area of client suffering is to identify the nature of your experience with it, explore the underlying causes, and work together to usher in resiliency, foster a more hopeful outlook, and restore equilibrium. Our caring, trained professionals will work diligently to bring you the support, interventions, and treatment you need.

General Disclaimer

Please note, the information on this page is based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, however, it is in no way exhaustive on the subject of each disorder discussed. This text is not intended to be the basis of self-diagnosis of any disorder. Only a trained mental health provider can provide you with an accurate diagnosis based on a myriad of factors and details specific to your particular case.

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