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Acute Stress Disorder


Most people who experience or witness trauma will experience some psychological symptoms in the first few weeks. These include feelings of fear, sadness, guilt and anger. However, some people experience a more intense response called Acute Distress Disorder (ASD).


ASD is a specific set of symptoms including:

  • Re-living the trauma through memories, nightmares or flashbacks

  • Avoiding things that are reminders of the trauma

  • Anxiety and irritability

  • Changes in mood 

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Difficulty concentrating  


When these symptoms remain after one month, the disorder is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Traumatic events that can cause ASD include:

  • death

  • a threat of death to oneself or others

  • a threat of serious injury to oneself or others

  • a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others


Anyone can develop ASD following a traumatic event. You may have an 
increased risk of developing ASD if you have:

  • experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with a traumatic event in the past

  • a history of ASD or PTSD

  • a history of certain types of mental problems

  • a history of dissociative symptoms during traumatic events

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