Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) is an anxiety disorder that is a caused by experiencing a traumatic event. To be diagnosed with ASD, patients have to experience anxiety and dissociative symptoms within a month after the event occurred. To be diagnosed the symptoms have to last at least two days, but last no more than one month. The traumatic event usually includes but is not limited to, near death experiences or witnessing a murder, physical assault, rape, and serious injury. Healthcare professionals diagnose ASD within one month of a catastrophic event, if they symptoms continue to occur for longer than one month, the patient is usually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). .
The symptoms for Acute Stress Disorder include dissociative and anxiety related symptoms. The affected person may feel disconnected to the environment, feeling numb and emotionally unresponsive. Also, they may feel a sense of depersonalization, meaning their thoughts and feelings feel like they do not belong to them. People diagnosed with ASD may often re-experience the event through reoccurring images, dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks. There is also a strong tendency to avoid objects, places, people, and situations related to the event. Along, with the dissociative symptoms, people who are diagnosed with ASD have a significant amount of anxiety. This anxiety is caused by stimuli related to the traumatic event causing restlessness, difficulty sleeping, constantly being tense and nervous.
There are several treatments for Acute Stress Disorder that range from psychotherapy to prescription medication. It is said that the most effective form of treatment for people who are diagnosed with ASD is cognitive behavioral therapy (Gibson 2014). However, medications such as anti-anxiety, anti-depressants, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also prescribed to reduce the symptoms of the disorder. .
The prevalence of ASD in other cultures is difficult to tell because, as discussed in a review of Acute Stress Disorder in the DSM-V, "there is very little cross-cultural work on the predictive power of ASD" (Bryant, Freidman, Spiegel, Ursano, & Strain, 2010).