A traumatic event can cause serious mental harm that leads to mental illness. While most people know about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), few have heard of acute stress disorder (ASD). However, this condition can cause debilitating symptoms. Because of that, acute stress disorder treatment is necessary for affected individuals to live healthy lives.

An Overview of ASD

Older woman looking sad may need acute stress disorder treatmentIn 1994, the American Psychiatric Association added ASD to the DSM-IV, a manual that establishes criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. In 2013, it reclassified the condition in the DSM-V as a trauma- and stress-related disorder.

Witnessing or experiencing one or more traumatic incidents can trigger ASD when they involve helplessness or intense fear. Some examples include threats of serious injury and death, threats toward physical integrity and a loved one’s death.

People who develop ASD can have a range of symptoms. Some dissociative effects include derealization, depersonalization, amnesia, reduced awareness, and a detached, numb feeling. It’s common for people to have flashbacks and become distressed when thinking about or reliving the incidents. They might avoid things that make them remember it too, such as places, activities, people or even conversations.

These acute stress disorder symptoms cause anxiety that leads to sleep problems, poor concentration, and immobility. They disrupt people’s lives, including relationships at home, school, and work.

According to the DSM-V, doctors should diagnose people with ASD when they have at least nine of the 14 symptoms. The diagnosis is only applicable from three days to one month after the trauma, which is the acute period. When the symptoms persist, doctors assess for PTSD.


People must have exposure to trauma to develop ASD and PTSD, and these mental health disorders share similar symptoms. However, ASD diagnosis only requires meeting an overall number of symptoms. PTSD diagnosis requires experiencing a certain amount of effects within specified clusters.

Also, PTSD includes non-fear-based effects such as destructive behavior and feeling isolated. For that reason, it’s important for people to get acute stress disorder treatment to prevent the condition from getting worse.

Elements of Acute Stress Disorder Treatment

Therapists can use a range of methods to help people overcome ASD. No matter which ones that they use, the goal is always the same. It’s to make people realize that the trauma doesn’t constitute their entire lives. Doing so reduces their symptoms, improves functioning and prevents PTSD.

Treating acute stress disorder involves helping people regain control. Their traumatic events have stripped them of their security and created chaos. Building a sense of personal empowerment, safety and support is essential. To achieve that, therapists help clients manage their emotions and thoughts, develop coping skills, establish a routine and set goals.

A popular method for acute stress disorder treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It revolves around the premise that events don’t cause distress. Instead, how people perceive the incidents leads to distress. Therefore, CBT changes how people think about these events to improve how they feel.

Other common acute stress disorder treatment methods include group therapy, anxiety management, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Doctors don’t usually prescribe medications to treat this disorder. However, they could temporarily prescribe medicine to address sleep problems, anxiety and depression.

Treating ASD and Substance Use Disorder

Some people don’t realize that not getting treatment for ASD can lead to substance use disorder (SUD). The reason is that they try to treat their symptoms with alcohol or drugs. This self-medication is a form of drug abuse that leads to addiction over time. By that point, they may need dual diagnosis treatment for PTSD and SUD at a rehab center.

Beaches Recovery Treats Dual Diagnosis

Have you suffered trauma and tried to cover up the effects of drugs or alcohol? You’re not alone, and help is available. Beaches Recovery is a premier rehab center that can help you start treatment right with detox at Tides Edge.

After detox, we’ll perform an assessment to determine the best level of care for your needs. Our facility offers a variety of programs and services for men and women, including:

Don’t let acute stress disorder or substance use rule your life. Get the acute stress disorder treatment that you need. Call Beaches Recovery at 866.605.0532 to start your recovery journey.