Acute Stress Disorder |

What is Acute Stress Disorder?

Acute stress disorder is often identified when a person has been exposed to some type of an extremely traumatic stressor. Approximately one month after this stressor has been experienced, the individual will begin to have anxiety, and they may even begin to have some signs and symptoms related to dissociation. While this may sound simple to identify, there are a few more aspects that need to be considered as well.  The following information will outline the criterion that has been established by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.


1.)    The individual was exposed to some type of a traumatic event and they also experienced both of the following:

  1. The individual was confronted with, or even saw, events that threatened or even caused serious injury (including death) to themselves or to someone else.
  2. When the event took place, the person was struck with extreme fear, feelings of helplessness or even extreme horror.

2.)    During the experience, or shortly after, the person had at least three of the following symptoms that are related to dissociation:

  1. Seemed to be detached or was numb
  2. Was not aware of his, or her, environment
  3. Had a sense of derealization
  4. Experienced depersonalization
  5. They were not able to recall important information in relation to the trauma that they experienced

3.)    They seem to reexperience the trauma either by having flashbacks, dreams or they become extremely stressed out when they are exposed to things that seem to remind them of the event.

4.)    Will work very hard to avoid things that may remind them of the traumatic event

5.)    The person will have highly elevated anxiety that can be noticed by others or they may even seem to be aroused.

6.)    The disturbances that they are experiencing will greatly impair their ability to function in important areas of their life.

7.)    These disturbances must last for at least 2 days, or for as long as 4 weeks and they must start within a four week time span after the event took place.

8.)    The symptoms that are being experienced are not in relation to the use of a substance.