The DSM-IV added the diagnostic criteria for Acute Stress Disorder in 1994. Much has been learned about acute stress disorder since that time; especially with the numerous natural disasters, increase in crime, and soldiers being in war zones. Researchers are working incessantly to learn more about this disorder and how to treat it more effectively.
The Causes of Acute Stress Disorder
As listed in the DSM-IV, the cause of acute stress disorder is when the person is a witness to or a victim of a traumatic event. Traumatic events are generalized by being something that caused the person to feel as if they could have been or were injured, felt as though they were in a life or death situation, and felt horror, great fear, and helplessness. Just some examples of what could be considered a traumatic even would include: being involved in active war zones, being raped, natural disaster, and being mugged.
The Signs and Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder
According to the DSM-IV, a person must present with three or more of these signs and symptoms of acute stress disorder to meet the criteria and characteristics of the disorder. Some of the symptoms include:
Abnormal emotional response
Subjective feelings of numbness
Dissociative signs and symptoms
Temporary memory loss of parts of the traumatic event
The Lifespan of Acute Stress Disorder
Acute Stress Disorder will begin within two days of the traumatic event if the person experiences this disorder due to the traumatic event. If the person begins to show the signs and symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder within the first two days after the traumatic event then it is likely they are suffering from ASD. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of the disorder and to get professional mental help as soon as possible. If the signs and symptoms of acute stress disorder are left untreated or are poorly treated, then the chances of the person suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are increased; in fact, if the patient continues to exhibit the signs and symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder after 4 weeks then the patient is considered to have PTSD.
Due to the combination of anxiety and dissociative signs and symptoms of ASD, many with it do not realize they have it and also are not aware that they should seek mental health. It is often a friend, family member, or medical professional that realizes the person is exhibiting signs and symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder. If you think you or your loved one is suffering from Acute Stress Disorder it is very important for their emotional wellbeing and their future quality of life to seek professional mental health for them.
American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth
Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.