Acute Stress Disorder: The Symptoms

A trauma can be extremely stressful. Many people, who are strong nerved, can often overcome any such event, but everyone is not that lucky. The stress takes heavy toll on them and they often fall victim to Acute Stress Disorder. It does not need a person to fall into that traumatic situation, but being witness to such an event can be enough to induce the stressful state.

Acute Stress Disorder usually strikes within one month of witnessing a traumatic event like death or any serious accident. It results in severe anxiety and dissociative nature and the person usually starts finding the once enjoyable situations less pleasurable. A feeling of guilt overcomes him or her and the person feels like getting into a dreamlike situation where he or she feels not within self. The mind feels detached from the body. Slowly the person finds it difficult to recall some of the minute details of the traumatic incident.

Some other symptoms of the Acute Stress Disorder are similar to that of the persons who have experienced the traumatic event themselves. These may include re-experiencing the events like recollecting the event repeatedly, visualizing images of the incident, having thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, or getting distressed whenever the event is recalled. This leads to avoiding any discussions on any such similar events. And finally this leads to behavioral problems like, sleep disorder, lack of concentrations, irritability, remaining extra vigilant of such possibilities, being extra sensitive to situations and increased restlessness.

However, to diagnose a person with Acute Stress Disorder, the person should have experienced, witnessed or confronted situation that actually resulted or could have resulted in death, serious injury or threatened the very physical integrity. The person should have reacted with intense fear, horror and sense of helplessness. A person is said to be suffering from the disorder when he or she shows any 3 of the following:
•    Numb feeling, detachment  and absence of emotional responses
•    Getting unaware of the surroundings
•    Failing of realization
•    Being oblivious of one’s self
•    Inability to remember any important situations of the traumatic event

The person should also recall the event in the form of visions, dreams, thoughts, etc. and this condition should persist for at least 2 days continuously (it can last for up to 4 weeks) before it can be termed Acute Stress Disorder.