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All you need to know about ASD

It is a psychological condition that can develop after exposure, and as a response, to a stressful event.

Acute stress disorder

Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) typically occurs within one month of a traumatic event. It lasts at least three days and can persist for up to one month.

It is a psychological condition that can develop after exposure, and as a response, to a stressful event.Traumatic events may vary hugely and are specific to the individual.

They include serious accidents, natural disasters, violent assaults and rarer events such as terrorist incidents. It can also result from sexual assault, following rape or child sexual abuse.

The trauma can be ongoing such as in the cases of domestic violence or recurring sexual abuse.

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People experiencing acute traumatic stress may be injured as a result of the event, or they may be witnesses to the traumatic event.

Approximately 6 to 33 percent of people who experience a traumatic event develop ASD. This rate varies based on the nature of the traumatic situation.

Symptoms

People suffering from ASD may have the following symptoms:

  • Feeling numb, detached, or being emotionally unresponsive
  • A reduced awareness of your surroundings
  • Derealisation, which occurs when your environment seems strange or unreal to you
  • Depersonalization, which occurs when your thoughts or emotions don’t seem real or don’t seem like they belong to you
  • Dissociative amnesia, which occurs when you cannot remember one or more important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event over and over
  • Having recurring nightmares
  • Acting or feeling as if the event is happening again
  • Staying away from activities, places or people that are reminders of the traumatic experience
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Losing interest in activities one used to enjoy
  • Experiencing difficulty having loving feelings
  • Getting angry easily
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Fearing harm from others
  • Experiencing sudden attacks of dizziness, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Having fears of dying
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Some people who have an acute stress reaction will find their symptoms persist for longer than one month. It may be necessary to discuss these symptoms with your doctor.

There may be another explanation for your symptoms. Some people with long-term symptoms may need to be assessed to see if post-traumatic stress disorder is a possibility.

Although alcohol may apparently give short-term relief of symptoms it can be damaging.

Drinking alcohol to 'calm nerves' may lead to problems with low mood, worse anxiety and problem drinking and is not recommended.

The symptoms of ASD may cause you distress or disrupt important aspects of your life, such as your social or work settings.

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You may have an inability to start or complete necessary tasks or an inability to tell others about the traumatic event.

Reactions

An acute stress reaction occurs when symptoms, including anxiety, develop quickly as a reaction to exceptionally stressful events. Symptoms often go quickly and you may not need any treatment.

Sometimes other treatments, such as talking therapies, may be helpful. An acute stress reaction occurs when symptoms develop due to a particularly stressful event. The word acute means the symptoms develop quickly but do not usually last long.

The events are usually very severe and an acute stress reaction typically occurs after an unexpected life crisis. This might be, for example, a serious accident, sudden bereavement, or other traumatic events.

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Road traffic accidents cause many casualties each year and you may be directly or indirectly affected by this kind of exceptionally stressful event.

Acute stress reactions may also occur as a consequence of sexual assaults or domestic violence. Acute stress reactions have been seen in people who experience terrorist incidents or major disasters.

They may also occur in people who experience war in their countries. Military personnel are at more risk as a result of extreme experiences during conflicts.

Experts agree that the most effective form of treatment for acute stress disorders is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

Medications have also been proven effective, and many people receive CBT and medication in combination.

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