Acute Stress Disorder Signs And Symptoms

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In 1994 the DSM-IV added the diagnostic criteria for Acute Stress Disorder. The criteria involved in the DSM-IV noted the acute stress disorder signs and symptoms as well as the cause and the criteria necessary to diagnose a patient with ASD. With the emergence of so many soldiers coming back from the Middle East many psychologists realized the effects of acute stress disorder and learned even more about the condition and found that if not treated effectively within 30 days of a traumatic event, the ASD would develop into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Currently mass research is being done to not only help the soldiers but also others who suffer from ASD to help to avoid PTSD.

What Causes Acute Stress Disorder

According to the diagnostic criteria found in the DSM-IV, the cause of acute stress disorder is when a person experiences a traumatic event. Some examples of a traumatic event could be a mugging, rape, natural disaster, being involved in war related scenarios, gang violence related situations and other traumatic events. The DSM-IV generalizes the cause by giving the criteria that the patient was a victim of or a witness to an actual or threatened life or death situation that made the person feel horrified, helpless, and created an intense fear during and even after the traumatic event occurred. For more information about PTSD and how Acute Stress Disorder are related, see the article Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – The Anxiety & Panic Disorders.

What are the Acute Stress Disorder Signs and Symptoms

For a person to be diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder they must display at least 3 of the following symptoms: a personal feeling of numbing, detachment, or lack of emotional responsiveness. Other signs and symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder that is related to the criteria necessary to diagnose a patient with the disorder also include a combination of anxiety and dissociative signs and symptoms like temporary memory loss, being emotionally detached, derealization, depersonalization, irritability, easy to startle, sleep problems including hypersomnia or insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and physical restlessness.

How Long Does Acute Stress Disorder Last

Acute Stress Disorder is an acute disorder of stress and anxiety following a traumatic event. The acute stress disorder signs and symptoms can occur within the first two days following the traumatic event and can last for up to 30 days. After a person has experienced the signs and symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder with no treatment, it is then considered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after 4 weeks. Since many with true Acute Stress Disorder have signs and symptoms that keep them from seeking medical attention, it is important for friends and loved ones to notice the signs and symptoms and help the person seek out medical attention. Treatments and therapy are available to those who have experienced a traumatic event that has led to Acute Stress Disorder and with new research findings many mental health professionals are able to help the patient avoid developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If you or someone you know has recently been through a traumatic event and is displaying three or more of the Acute Stress Disorder signs and symptoms-it is important to seek mental health assistance to combat the disorder and to help prevent further mental health and even physical health problems and disorders from occurring. For more information about medical treatments, see The Most Effective Acute Stress Disorder Medicines.


DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Acute Stress Disorder

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth

Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.