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  • Acute Stress Disorder

    Between 5 and 20 percent of people exposed to a trauma such as a car accident, assault, or a mass shooting develop Acute Stress Disorder (ASD); and approximately half of these people go on to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is important to understand the potential physical and psychological effects that can occur after a traumatic event.

    What is Acute Stress Disorder?

    • Although it shares many of the same symptoms as PTSD, ASD is a distinct diagnosis.

    • A person with ASD experiences psychological distress immediately following a traumatic event. Unlike PTSD, ASD is a temporary condition, and symptoms typically persist for at least 3 to 30 days after the traumatic event (commonly referred to as the acute phase).

    • If a person experiences symptoms for longer than a month, The ASD diagnosis would no longer apply and a clinician would assess them for PTSD.

    • According to the DSM-5, a patient is diagnosed with the disorder when he or she has nine or more symptoms.

    Acute Stress Disorder Symptoms:

    • Intrusion symptoms—involuntary and intrusive distressing memories of the trauma or recurrent distressing dreams

    • Negative mood symptoms—a persistent inability to experience positive emotions, such as happiness or love

    • Dissociative symptoms—time slowing, seeing oneself from an outsider's perspective, or being in a daze

    • Avoidance symptoms—avoidance of memories, thoughts, feelings, people, or places associated with the trauma

    • Arousal symptoms—difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritable behavior, or problems with concentration

    Treatment Options For Acute Stress Disorder May Include:

    Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is usually recommended as the first-line treatment for people with ASD. CBT involves working with a trained mental health professional to develop effective coping strategies. CBT has two main components.

    • Looks to change cognitions or patterns of thought surrounding the traumatic incident.

    • Works to alter behaviors in anxiety-provoking situations and attempts to prevent the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Mindfulness. Mindfulness-based interventions teach techniques for managing stress and anxiety. These can include meditation and breathing exercises.

    Medications. A healthcare professional may prescribe antidepressants to help treat a person’s symptoms.

    Additional Resources:

    Our team of professional therapists is dedicated to clients' care and services Fort Walton, Niceville, and surrounding communities. Call us at 850-757-1552 to schedule an appointment today.