Let’s Talk … About Acute Stress Disorder

Ah stress. Everyone at some point in their life has experienced it – multiple times even. And if someone tells you they haven’t, they’re either lying or they don’t know what stress is (and it’s probably the first one.) Moooovvving onnnn – according to Psychcentral.com, acute stress disorder, or ASD for short, is “characterized by the development of severe anxiety, dissociative, and other symptoms that occurs within one month after exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor.”

Healthline.com shares what some examples of traumatic events may include;

  • death
  • a threat of death to oneself or others
  • a threat of serious injury to oneself or others
  • a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others

Healthline.com also states that “approximately 6 to 33 percent of people who experience a traumatic event develop ASD. (This rate varies based on the nature of the traumatic situation.)”

Someone who’s been diagnosed with/experiencing acute stress disorder may experience difficult concentrating, having difficulty recalling specific details of the traumatic event, and/or feeling detached from their bodies.

Symptoms of ASD include (but are not limited to):

  • Dissociative Symptoms: feeling numb, detached, or being emotionally unresponsive, or reduced awareness of your surroundings, or dissociative amnesia (which occurs when you cannot remember one or more important aspects of the traumatic event)
  • Reexperiencing the Traumatic Event: feeling like you’re reliving the traumatic event, or having recurring images, thoughts, nightmares, illusions, or flashback episodes of the traumatic event
  • Avoidance: avoiding  stimuli that cause you to remember or reexperience the traumatic event
  • Anxiety or Arousal: being irritable, trouble sleeping, being constatly on guard or tense, being unable to sit still or stop moving, or becoming startled too easily or at inappropriate times.

So how is ASD treated? ASD is typically treated with the help of a psychiatrist, where medication may be prescrbied to help with symptoms, therapy and/or counselling.


Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.


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