Acute Stress Disorder

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Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder is a short-term anxiety disorder triggered by a traumatic, life-threatening event that causes a reaction of fear, helplessness, or horror.

Symptoms include feeling numb, reliving the event through disturbing memories or dreams, and avoiding anything that may be a reminder of the event. Symptoms are so intense that they disrupt daily activities like going to work and interacting with other people. 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.

Last Revised: April 20, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry




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