Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an intense, unpleasant, and dysfunctional reaction beginning shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and lasting less than a month.
If symptoms persist longer than a month, people are diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Individuals with acute stress disorder have been exposed to a terrifying event. They may experience it directly or indirectly.
For example, direct exposure may involve experiencing serious injury, violence, or the threat of death.
Indirect exposure may involve witnessing events happening to others or learning of events that occurred to close family members or friends.
Individuals mentally re-experience the traumatic event, avoid things that remind them of it, and have increased anxiety.
Individuals with this disorder may have dissociative symptoms. For example, they may feel emotionally numb or disconnected from themselves. They may feel that they are not real.
The number of individuals with acute stress disorder is unknown.
The likelihood of developing acute stress disorder is greater when traumatic events are severe or recurrent.