Acute Stress Disorder (Encyclopedia of Medicine)
Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by a cluster of dissociative and anxiety symptoms occurring within one month of a traumatic event. (Dissociation is a psychological reaction to trauma in which the mind tries to cope by "sealing off" some features of the trauma from conscious awareness).
Acute stress disorder is a new diagnostic category that was introduced in 1994 to differentiate time-limited reactions to trauma from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Causes and symptoms
Acute stress disorder is caused by exposure to trauma, which is defined as a stressor that causes intense fear and, usually, involves threats to life or serious injury to oneself or others. Examples are rape, mugging, combat, natural disasters, etc.
The symptoms of stress disorder include a combining of one or more dissociative and anxiety symptoms with the avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event. Dissociative symptoms include emotional detachment, temporary loss of memory, depersonalization, and derealization.
Anxiety symptoms connected with acute stress disorder include irritability, physical restlessness, sleep problems, inability to concentrate, and being easily startled....
(The entire section is 681 words.)
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Acute stress disorder (Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders)
Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by a cluster of dissociative and anxiety symptoms that occur within a month of a traumatic stressor. It is a relatively new diagnostic category and was added to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 to distinguish time-limited reactions to trauma from the farther-reaching and longer-lasting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM contains diagnostic criteria, research findings, and treatment information for mental disorders. It is the primary reference for mental health professionals in the United States.
ASD, like PTSD, begins with exposure to an extremely traumatic, horrifying, or terrifying event. Unlike PTSD, however, ASD emerges sooner and abates more quickly; it is also marked by more dissociative symptoms. If left untreated, however, ASD is likely to progress to PTSD. Because the two share many symptoms, some researchers and clinicians question the validity of maintaining separate diagnostic categories. Others explain them as two phases of an extended reaction to traumatic stress.
(The entire section is 2357 words.)