Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder, like posttraumatic stress disorder involves the development of severe anxiety and other acute symptoms in response to a traumatic event. The symptoms begin either immediately or within one month. The major difference with posttraumatic stress disorder is that in acute stress disorder the symptoms must peak and be alleviated within one month. If symptoms persist, then a diagnosis of PTSD is given as long as all criteria are met for that disorder. By specifying the differences between acute stress and PTSD, mental health clinicians are able to plan a proper treatment program.
What does dissociation mean?
Dissociation is a cognitive process whereby a person disconnects from his feelings, thoughts, memories, and sense of self, as a way to cope with a traumatic event or situation, while it is occurring or after the trauma is over. The experiences of losing touch with one's present surroundings can range from mild, such as “daydreaming,” to the serious dissociative states of PTSD.
The diagnosis for acute stress disorder includes the presence of dissociative symptoms such as derealization, depersonalization, and dissociative amnesia. You have to re-experience the event in flashbacks, thoughts, dreams, and hallucinations. Other symptoms include anxiety, sleep problems, irritability, depression, and an increased startle response. You may avoid anything linked to the trauma, and experience severe distress in your personal and professional life. However, none of your symptoms can be caused by brief psychotic disorder, or the physiological effects of medication or abuse of drugs or alcohol.