Acute stress disorder refers to a range of psychological symptoms which may occur immediately after a traumatic event. With recognition and treatment, this mental health condition can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Acute”, here, refers to the speed with which symptoms of this condition develop. Usually, Acute Stress Disorder occurs after an unexpected life crisis, and the events are usually severe. Websites such as The Human Condition provides in-depth knowledge about this condition and how to deal with it.

Understanding Acute Stress Disorder

People who experienced any traumatic event may develop an anxiety disorder known as acute stress disorder in the following weeks. Typically, ASD occurs within one month of experiencing a traumatic event and lasts for three days. However, the symptoms can last for up to a month. While symptoms of ASD and PTSD are similar, they have a distinct diagnosis.

Traumatic events which may cause symptoms of ASD to develop are:

  • The threat of physical integrity to others or oneself
  • The threat of serious injury to others or oneself
  • The threat of death of others or oneself
  • Death

Unlike PTSD, ASD is a temporary condition. If symptoms of the disorder last for over a month, clinicians will diagnose the person with PTSD.

What Are the Symptoms of ASD?

Some common symptoms of ASD include:

  • Avoidance symptoms such as avoiding any stimuli which may cause the individual to re-experience the event
  • Distress symptoms are the most common and often hinder daily activities. The person may feel unable to complete necessary tasks or not be able to convey their feelings about the traumatic event.
  • Anxiety symptoms such as trouble sleeping, being irritable, having trouble regulating their breathing, etc.
  • Persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event, such as having dreams, images, flashbacks, or thoughts about the event.
  • Dissociative symptoms such as feeling numb, emotionally unresponsive, or detached from the event also happen. Some people may experience dissociative amnesia, where they cannot remember one or more important aspects of the event.

How to Manage ASD?

Although it is a temporary condition, it has severe psychological symptoms that can threaten physical well-being. Negative moods such as low mood or negative thoughts and dissociative symptoms such as losing a sense of reality are common ASD symptoms. Hence, it is crucial to diagnose the condition as early as possible to prevent any drastic results.

Using Preventative Measures

ASD occurs as a result of traumatic events which cannot be avoided. The threat of injury to oneself or others can occur unexpectedly, similar to the death of a loved one. Hence, while you may not avoid traumatic events, you may prevent the negative consequences of such events by following preventive measures.

Websites such as the Human Condition provide support and help individuals learn more about such disorders. Some things to keep in mind after you or your loved ones have experienced a traumatic event are:

  • Consult a mental healthcare professional or doctor soon after you or your loved ones have experienced a traumatic event
  • Go through professional training if your work involves the risk of experiencing traumatic events, as in the case of high-risk jobs.
  • Get support from your friends and family.
  • Consult with an experienced mental health professional to receive proper treatment for other mental health problems
  • Consult with behavioral coaches to come up with effective and beneficial coping strategies.

Use Proper Treatment Measures

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ASD, it is crucial to seek the proper treatment as soon as possible. When a person does not recover from this temporary disorder, they may be diagnosed with PTSD, which requires much more extensive treatment plans.

Since ASD is a temporary condition, many people may recover with no treatment. However, to prevent the worsening of the individual condition, it is best to seek help from a mental health professional.

Based on their expertise, they can suggest a suitable treatment plan that may involve using medication to keep mild symptoms under control, a psychotherapeutic approach such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or mindfulness techniques.

Treatment plans are short-term and designed to prevent the symptoms from persisting and developing into a more severe diagnosis.

Keeping personal safety in mind is also crucial during this time. After a traumatic event, individuals are at an increased risk of suicide. Hence, it is imperative that an individual feels comfortable seeking help from friends, family, or mental health professionals. Learning more about their diagnosis and symptoms can help people understand the importance of personal safety.

While ASD is a temporary condition, it is crucial to learn how to prevent it or deal with it after a diagnosis. Persistent symptoms can cause further distress and lead to a diagnosis of PTSD, which requires long-term treatment and significantly hinders a person’s quality of life.

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