Acute stress disorder

psychological response to a terrifying, traumatic, or surprising experience
(Redirected from Acute stress reaction)

Acute stress disorder (ASD, also known as acute stress reaction, psychological shock, mental shock, or simply shock) is a psychological response to a terrifying, traumatic, or surprising event. The American Psychiatric Association first introduced it to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders in 1994.

Acute stress disorder is not fatal, but it may bring stress if not treated.[1][2] ASD typically occurs within one month of a traumatic event. It lasts at least three days and can persist for up to one month. People with ASD have symptoms similar to those seen in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Patients with acute stress disorder may benefit from psychological first aid. This offers practical assistance; and helping the patient get social support and other services.[3]



ASD symptoms fall under five broad categories:[4]

  • Intrusion symptoms. These occur when a person is unable to stop revisiting a traumatic event through flashbacks, memories, or dreams.
  • Negative mood. A person may experience negative thoughts, sadness, and low mood.
  • Dissociative symptoms. These can include an altered sense of reality, a lack of awareness of the surroundings, and an inability to remember parts of the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance symptoms. People with these symptoms purposefully avoid thoughts, feelings, people, or places that they associate with the traumatic event.
  • Arousal symptoms. These can include insomnia and other sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and irritability or aggression, which can be either verbal or physical. The person may also feel tense or on guard and become startled very easily.



A traumatic event can cause significant physical, emotional, or psychological harm.[5]

  • the death of a loved one
  • the threat of death or serious injury
  • natural disasters
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • sexual assault, rape, or domestic abuse
  • receiving a terminal diagnosis
  • surviving a traumatic brain injury


  1. Isaac, Jeff. (2013). Wilderness and rescue medicine. Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN 9780763789206. OCLC 785442005.
  2. Reynaud, Emmanuelle; Guedj, Eric; Trousselard, Marion; El Khoury-Malhame, Myriam; Zendjidjian, Xavier; Fakra, Eric; Souville, Marc; Nazarian, Bruno; Blin, Olivier; Canini, Frédéric; Khalfa, Stephanie (2015). "Acute stress disorder modifies cerebral activity of amygdala and prefrontal cortex". Cognitive Neuroscience. 6 (1): 39–43. doi:10.1080/17588928.2014.996212. PMID 25599382. S2CID 12378221.
  3. "Diagnosing Stress and the Associated Disorders". Extras. 18 December 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-10-21. Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  4. "What are acute stress disorder symptoms?". 2019-02-04. Archived from the original on 2021-09-02. Retrieved 2021-09-02.
  5. "Acute Stress Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis". Healthline. 2012-09-28. Archived from the original on 2021-09-02. Retrieved 2021-09-02.