Acute Stress Disorder
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Acute Stress Disorder happens when someone has experienced an event that involvedan actual or threatened death or serious injury/injuries.
Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder:
(You must have 3 or more of the following symptoms to be diagnosed)A sense of numbness, detachment or absence of emotional responsiveness.A reduction in awareness of his or her surroundings Derealization Depersonalization Dissociative Amnesia (Inability to remember the event)
Acute Stress Disorder may last form 2 days up till 4 weeks, and must happen within 4 weeks of the actual event happening. Any longer than this, and post-traumatic stress disorder is than considered which is more severe.
A person with Acute Stress Disorder will re-experience the traumatic event in different ways:Illusions Thoughts Dreams Recurrent Images Flashbacks Distress of exposure from reminders of the event A sense of reliving the experience
All of these can be extremely horrific to someone with this disorder, and may bring on a lot of panic, anxiety and stress. This can interrupts someones everyday living style, changing their diet, sleeping patterns, making concentrating difficult, irritability, startled responses and it affects many other body behaviours. Someone may also try to avoid stigma that reminds them of the situation... Things like people, places, conversations, activities, thoughts, and feelings.
Time is the best healer for Acute Stress Disorder, but when it does not resolve itself,
the disorder may worsen and become Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Biological Treatments
Psychological Treatments
These are the same type of treatments used for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as well, to find more information about these treatment please scroll down to treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Examples of Traumas that can lead to Acute Stress Disorder
• Military combat • Violent personal assault • Being kidnapped or taken hostage • Torture • Incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp • Natural disaster (earthquake, fire, tornado, hurricane) • Terrorist attack • Severe automobile accident • Severe accident at work or in the home • Sexual abuse during childhood • Sexual assault or abuse • Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness • Unexpectedly observing serious injury or unnatural death of another person( © 2002 Randi E. McCabe, Ph.D. & Martin M. Antony, Ph.D)

Acute Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are a lot a like, but one major difference beside the length of the disorders, is that with Acute the symptoms are much more severe and intense. These symptoms include; Amnesia, Reduced Awareness, Depersonalization, Derealization and Numbing. (© 2005,

Amnesia- loss of a large block of interrelated memories; complete or partialloss of memory caused by brain injury, shock, etc.
Anxiety distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune: a state of apprehension and psychic tensionoccurring in some forms of mental disorder.
Derealization - an alteration in perception leading to the feeling that the reality ofthe world has been changed or lost.
Depersonalization - A change in an individuals self-awareness such that they feel detached from their own experience, with the self, the body and mind seeming alien.
Panic Attack - is a discrete period in which there is the sudden onset of intense apprehension, fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom. During these attacks, symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, and fear of "going crazy" or losing control are present...."

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"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is when someone has experienced, witnessed, or been exposed to an event that cause extreme fear or horror and may have threatened possible death or injury."
Acute: Acute post-traumatic stress disorder is when the duration of symptoms is less than three months.
Chronic: Chronic post-traumatic stress disorder is when the duration of symptoms is three months or more.
Delayed Onset: Symptoms begin six months or more after the trauma.

Keith Brown, who experiences PTSD wrote this poem describing how he feels on a day to day basis.
What is PSTD? Not having feelings that show, even to yourself. A self medicator. A person who wants to be in control. A person who lacks control. Trying to cope with yourself. Trying to cope with others. Knows the true meaning of "trust." Knows the true meaning of "betrayal." Lauging at stupid things. Laughing at nothing. Being steadfast at beliefs. Being steadfast at nothing. Being a successful person. Being a drop out. An expert at "faking" it. Being well-to-do. Being poor. Being happy on the surface. Hating everything, including yourself. Caring for everyone, except yourself. Not caring for anything. Never can cry.
Being alone. Being alone, even with family and friends. Staying in your cave. And the cave never ends while you're alone. Keith, September 1997
This poem shows that people who experience PTSD may experience feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, hostility, they may feel constantly threatened, give up on their beliefs and values, constantly feel alone and unsure about themselves. Different feelings and emotions arise due to different personalities, how bad the trauma was, and if people have the right supports or not.Symptoms(Must begin after the trauma, and have 2 or more symptoms)

Difficulty falling or staying asleep. Feeling irritable and grumpy, or experiencing outbursts of anger and temper tantrums. Difficulty concentrating. Hypervigilance Becoming startled very easily
FACTS: - People with family members who dealt with severe depression are more proned to PTSD. - PTSD can occur at any age.- Extremity of the trauma is really important.- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is associated with increased rates of Major Depressive Disorder, Substance-Related Disorders, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Social Phobia.- Children may experience more physical symptoms, bad dreams and reenact the trauma a lot.

Treatment Biological and psychological treatment are found most effective when used together.
Many anti-depressants are used to help with PTSD, as well as Acute Stress Disorder.
Medication is needed when daily functioning is impaired, or the person has an addiction psychiatric condition.
If significant symptoms are present than psychological treatments are necessary.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Psycho-education- Information about common reactions to trauma. Emotional support, reassurance to help relieve feelings of guilt. Encouragement to seek support, talking about trauma and feelings.
Anxiety Management- Teaching skills to help manage the symptoms of PTSD including relaxation and breathing retraining as well as positive self-talk and assertiveness training.
Cognitive Therapy- Identifying anxious thoughts and replacing them with more realistic thoughts.
Exposure to Trauma Cues and Feared Situations- Confronting feared situations or triggers repeatedly until fear is extinguished. Gradually progressing to more difficult situations.
Exposure to Trauma Memories- Confronting trauma memories repeatedly until they are no longer associated with extreme distress. This is combined with anxiety management strategies and cognitive therapy.

Feelings That May Come with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder..
Guilt Feelings (Surviving when others did not survive).
Feeling Constantly Threatened
Social Withdrawal
Impaired Relationships with Others
Loss of Sustained Beliefs
Somatic Complaints
Dissociative Symptoms
Feeling Permanently Damaged
Everyone deals with things differently, and people may be affected differently
by all different feelings and emotions, and they may be affected by more than one.

Steps in Managing Traumatic Stress

Recognize the signs of stress and than you can start to recognize the steps you need to take in order to cope.
It is important to not try and avoid people, places or thoughts that may be reminders, and to never shut off feelings. The more you try to run from the trauma and hide from it, the more you will find it will start to control your life.
Trying to avoid bad memories, trying to shut out feelings or people, or trying to stay always alert may seem reasonable. However, they don't work because trauma controls your life if you run from it.

Coping with PTSD

There is absolutely no cure for PTSD! Healing can only come with time, and this is a hard and gradual process, but the more you surround yourself with supportive people, and the more you face your challenges head on, the better you will be able to cope with the trauma.

Positive coping actions

Learning about trauma and PTSD

Talking to another person for support

Talking to your doctor about trauma and PTSD

Practicing relaxation methods

Increasing positive distracting activities

Calling a counselor for help

Taking prescribed medications to tackle PTSD

Take Control:

Call about treatment and join a PTSD support group

Increase contact with other survivors of trauma

Reinvest in personal relationships with family and friends

Change neighbourhoods to a safer area

Refrain from alcohol and drug abuse

Start an exercise program

Start to volunteer in the community

American Psychiatric Association (2010). Tools and Links: Criteria for Agoraphobia. doi: 10.1176/appi.books.9780890423349.3082 Retreived from DSM-IV-TR database June 11, 2010.

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Picture Two: © 2002 Randi E. McCabe, Ph.D. & Martin M. Antony, Ph.D.
Managing Stress: