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In the weeks after a traumatic event, you may develop an anxiety disorder called acute stress disorder (ASD). ASD typically occurs within one month of a traumatic event. It lasts at least three days and can persist for up to one month. People with ASD have symptoms similar to those seen in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with one or more traumatic events can cause ASD. The events create intense fear, horror, or helplessness. Traumatic events that can cause ASD include a:
Approximately 6 to 33 percent of people who experience a traumatic event develop ASD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This rate varies based on the nature of the traumatic situation.
Anyone can develop ASD after a traumatic event. You may have an increased risk of developing ASD if you have:
The symptoms of ASD include:
You’ll have three or more of the following dissociative symptoms if you have ASD:
You’ll persistently re-experience the traumatic event in one or more of the following ways if you have ASD:
You may avoid stimuli that cause you to remember or re-experience the traumatic event, such as:
The symptoms of ASD may cause you distress or disrupt important aspects of your life, such as your social or work settings. You may have an inability to start or complete necessary tasks, or an inability to tell others about the traumatic event.
Your primary doctor or mental healthcare provider will diagnose ASD by asking you questions about the traumatic event and your symptoms. It’s also important to rule out other causes such as:
Your doctor may use one or more of the following methods to treat ASD:
Many people with ASD are later diagnosed with PTSD. A diagnosis of PTSD is made if your symptoms persist for more than a month and cause a significant amount of stress and difficulty functioning.
Treatment may reduce your chances of developing PTSD. Approximately 50 percent of PTSD cases resolve within six months, whereas others may persist for years.
Because there’s no way to ensure that you never experience a traumatic situation, there’s no way to prevent ASD. However, there are things that can be done to reduce your likelihood of developing ASD.
Getting medical treatment within a few hours of experiencing a traumatic event may reduce the likelihood that you’ll develop ASD. People who work in jobs that carry a high risk for traumatic events, such as military personnel, may benefit from preparation training and counseling to reduce their risk of developing ASD or PSTD if a traumatic event does occur. Preparation training and counseling may involve fake enactments of traumatic events and counseling to strengthen coping mechanisms.
Written by: Rose Kivion: Nov 28, 2017
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