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Anxiety Basics

Anxiety - What is It
Anxiety Cause
Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Acute Stress Disorder
Seperation Anxiety
Anxiety Neurosis
Tourette's Syndrome
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Phobic Anxiety Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder

The person mentally reexperiences the traumatic event, avoids things that remind him of it, and has increased anxiety. The current diagnostic criteria for Acute Stress Disorder are similar to the criteria for PTSD, although the criteria for ASD contain a greater emphasis on dissociative symptoms and the diagnosis can only be given within the first month after a traumatic event. It is the primary reference for mental health professionals in the United States. The initial traumatic event must have involved actual or threatened death or serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of self or another person, and the person must have felt fear, helplessness or horror. During the event or immediately after, they must have experienced some of the following: numbing, detachment, derealization, depersonalization or dissociative amnesia. In general, it is believed that the more direct the exposure to the traumatic event, the higher the risk for emotional harm. Thus in a school shooting, for example, the student who is injured probably will be most severely affected emotionally; and the student who sees a classmate shot or killed, is likely to be more emotionally affected than the student who was in another part of the school when the violence occurred. The disorder may begin as soon as 2 days after the event and can last up to 4 weeks. Symptoms that last longer than 1 month are called post-traumatic stress disorder.

Acute Stress Disorder, or ASD, is a psychiatric diagnosis that was introduced into the DSM-IV in 1994. Acute Stress Disorder is a variation of Post. The inclusion of ASD in the DSM-IV was not accompanied by extensive research, and some debate exists regarding whether the diagnostic criteria accurately reflect pathological reactions to trauma that occur within the first month after a trauma. Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that lasts for a minimum of 2 days, but lasts a maximum of 4 weeks, and occurs within 4 weeks of the initial stressor. The diagnosis was established to identify those individuals who would eventually develop post-traumatic stress disorder. While this is a relatively new diagnosis, for years this condition was referred to as "shell shock," and though it stems from reactions of soldiers as far back as the U. S. Civil War in 1865, civilians may also suffer from it. Because the two share many symptoms, some researchers and clinicians question the validity of maintaining separate diagnostic categories. Others explain them as two phases of an extended reaction to traumatic stress. However, even though debate exists about the empirical basis of the diagnosis, it has been found to be highly predictive of subsequent PTSD.

Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

Some common Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder :

  • Lack of emotional responsiveness, a sense of numbing or detachment .
  • A sense of not being real .
  • Dissociative amnesia (i.e., inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma) .
  • The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror .
  • Depersonalization or a sense of being dissociated from self .
  • Increased state of anxiety and arousal such as a difficulty staying awake or falling asleep .
  • Depersonalization .
  • Purposeful avoidance of exposure to thoughts, emotions, conversations, places or people that remind them of the trauma .

Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder

  • Treatment for acute stress disorder usually includes a combination of antidepressant medications and short-term psychotherapy.
  • Homeopathic treatment and the use of herbal medicine and flower essences also can help the person with acute stress disorder rebalance on the physical, mental, and emotional levels.
  • Treatment for acute stress disorder reflects the short-lived duration of the illness and usually involves a benzodiazepine such as lorazepam (Ativan), if any medication at all is used.