Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that develops in some people that witness or experience a horrifying life-threatening event. Acute stress disorder causes an assortment of symptoms including re-living the event through memories and nightmares and feeling emotionally numb or dazed. The symptoms are similar to posttraumatic stress disorder, but last less than a month and develop during or soon after a traumatic event. Acute stress disorder can be treated with therapy, medications, or both. Untreated acute stress disorder can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder.
The symptoms of acute stress disorder may develop during or within a month of an extremely traumatic event. The symptoms may last from two days to up to four weeks. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, the diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder may be considered.
A symptom of acute stress disorder is a symptom called dissociation. This term refers to feeling a lack of emotions or emotionally numb, detached from reality, dazed, or “tuned out.” Acute stress disorder can cause you to re-live the event in repeated memories, nightmares, or “flashbacks” that seem very real. A flashback is a term for the sudden unexpected replaying of very vivid memories. You may avoid places, smells, people, sounds, or situations that remind you of the event. You may feel anxious and distressed at times when there is no actual threat. You may experience other symptoms that are similar to those of post traumatic stress disorder. Your symptoms may disrupt your ability to complete every day tasks and interfere with your job, school, or social life.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.