Acute Stress Disorder

Traumatic events can lead to lasting effects on one’s emotional well-being which may include the onset of mental illnesses like Acute Stress Disorder . Acute Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that typically follows shortly after a traumatic stressor and occurs within 1 month of a traumatic event and symptoms can last from 3 days to a month. 


Symptoms for people with Acute Stress Disorder are similar to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but there are differences within the duration of the symptoms, whereby symptoms of PTSD must last for at least a month and can last for several years. Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder are also usually due to depersonalization and derealization, where one may feel a detachment from self, whereas PTSD usually consists of heightened awareness and changes in mood or cognition.


Signs and Symptoms

  • Severe anxiety
  • Dissociation (sense of detaching from one’s self)
  • Dissociative amnesia (trouble remembering various details from the event)
  • Flashback episodes
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Hypervigilance
  • Avoiding or withdrawing from people, places or experiences that are reminiscent of the trauma


Risk factors

Anyone can be at risk of developing Acute Stress Disorder, but there is an increased risk for those who have:

  • A history of being diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder or PTSD 
  • Experienced, observed, or been presented with a traumatic situation
  • A history of certain mental health issues
  • A history of dissociation during traumatic events




Trauma can have a significant impact on one's ability to function as well as on one's self-esteem and self-worth. By teaching people how to reduce trauma arousal and create healthy coping skills for managing distress, acute stress disorder treatment can help individuals live more meaningful and enjoyable lives.