Acute Stress Disorder

Do you often experience an out-of-body sensation along with lack of focus and anxiety? Chances are that you are suffering from a serious physiological condition called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). Read and know more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Acute Stress Disorder Definition

Medical researchers and professionals define this as a mental condition that occurs as an adverse psychological response to any traumatic episode or frightening incident. It is differentiated by the development of dissociative, anxiety and other related symptoms. It usually develops within a month as a reaction to an event that may be concerned with death, severe injury, threat or physical abuse.

ASD is also referred to by other names, such as psychological shock and mental shock.

Picture of Acute Stress Disorder

Picture 1 – Acute Stress Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder ICD9 Code

The ICD9 code for this disease is 308.

Acute Stress Disorder Causes

Based on medical theories, this ailment can be said to arise in an individual as a consequence of any distressing incident where he or she experiences extreme fear, stress or agony. Such an event may involve grave injury or death of someone close. Human beings react out of their instinct on perceiving any threatening situation. The intensity of ASD is identified by such instinctive responses during any crisis, which may be one or more of the following:


  • High blood pressure
  • Increased sweating
  • Enhanced heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Abnormalities in metabolism
  • Tautness of muscles

Acute Stress Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of this disease depend on its underlying cause. The condition is generally identified by the development of dissociation, anxiety and various other symptoms that arise within a period of one month after the patient has been exposed to any traumatic event. Some of the common problems experienced by ASD patients are:

  • Reduced emotional sensitivity
  • Near-failure to enjoy any pleasurable activity or adventure
  • Guilt in undertaking daily chores
  • Severe concentration problems
  • Lack of association with their own body
  • Preference to stay in a world of fantasy
  • Difficulties in remembering details of any incident
  • Difficulties in sleeping
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Irritability
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Motor agitation

A person suffering from any painful incident tends to consistently recollect the event through:

  • Persistent images
  • Dreams
  • Illusions
  • Thoughts
  • Past episodes
  • Pain on exposure to something that reminds of the traumatic event
  • Re-living the incident

The disturbance in this condition arises within 4 weeks of the distressful incident and persists for at least 2 days.

Dissociative Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

After facing a stressful incident, patients tend to display dissociative symptoms like:

  • Depersonalization
  • Numbness
  • Loss of sense of reality
  • Reduced consciousness of his/her periphery
  • Inability to recollect a vital part of the trauma

Acute Stress Disorder Complications

This type of ailment gives rise to some serious complications, such as:

  • De-compensation, which leads to severe depression, psychosis or anxiety disorders
  • Suicide
  • Occupational or social disability
  • Belated injury. It can be very difficult to cure physical wounds in patients suffering from this syndrome.

Acute Stress Disorder Diagnosis

The diagnosis of this disorder involves analysis of the medical history of a patient, after a thorough physical examination. This should be done in order to remove the problems that give rise to uneasiness. Diagnosis should also aim at:

  • Detecting the presence of stressful symptoms between two days to four weeks
  • Observing whether these symptoms invade normal professional or social functioning

Acute Stress Disorder Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis of this disease should involve distinguishing it from:

  • Various anxiety disorders
  • Any pre-existing mental disorders caused by a traumatic event
  • Any mental disorder caused by head strain or some other common medical situation

Acute Stress Disorder Treatment

This disease is often treated when a patient experiences any incident that involves mental trauma, horror, panic or vulnerability. Treatment of this medical disease aims at removing its underlying cause. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the best way to cure this disorder. This therapy combats with the elements of ASD, to eliminate it from its very core. It has two significant mechanisms. The primary step is to alter the knowledge and change the pattern of thought associated with the disturbing incident. The secondary step is to change the attitude in anxiety-arousing situations. Cognitive therapy not only cures the symptoms of ASD but also helps patients avoid any type of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The two other healing therapies for this syndrome are anxiety management groups and psychological debriefing. Anxiety management groups involve sharing of curing strategies by patients to make others learn about innovative methods of combating stress together. Psychological debriefing includes a severe therapeutic development instantly after the distressing incident, so that affected people can discuss it and let go of their trauma.

Acute Stress Disorder Prognosis

Prognosis of such a type of disease is very good.  This medical condition yields good results if the right treatments are provided, to remove the causes for this mental disorder.

Acute Stress Disorder Incidence

The exact incidence of this condition is not known. According to studies, occurrence of ASD varies from patient to patient. Survival rates for this disorder depend on the type of trauma suffered by the patient and usually range from 6 to 33%.

Acute Stress Disorder Risk Factors

There are certain factors that can increase the possibility of having this medical syndrome.

  • Presence of other mental conditions
  • History of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Presence of certain symptoms, such as being unaware of environment when faced with this medical ailment.
  • Experiencing other traumatic incidents

Acute Stress Disorder Pictures

Take a look at these carefully selected images photos to learn how patients affected with this physiological problem react.

Image of Acute Stress Disorder

Picture 2 – Acute Stress Disorder Image

Photo of Acute Stress Disorder

Picture 3 – Acute Stress Disorder Photo

The main cause for this illness is any sudden traumatic event. Hence, one should stay away from stressful situations in order to avoid this mental condition. If you are already suffering from mental stress, get in touch with a medical professional and consult him/her for possible treatment options to get quick relief.

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