Acute Stress Disorder - Effective Ways To Manage It!
Written and reviewed by
Ph.D Psychology, M.Phil - Psychology
13 years experience
While stress is very common in most people, acute stress disorder (ASD) is a condition which has the following features.
- Occurs after a severe incident or trauma including death of a dear person, major accident, severe injury or incident, threat to oneself, etc.
- Affects either the person affected by the trauma directly or by someone who witnessed the event from close quarters
- Person goes through severe stress within a month after the event and can last anywhere between 1 day to beyond a month
- Seen in people who have had trauma and can eventually lead to full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder
- Emotionally feeling detached, numb, or unaffected
- Not very aware of the real surroundings, could be hallucinating also
- Feels disconnected with the people in the surrounding, both emotionally and physically
- Can have episodes of dissociative amnesia where they are not able to recollect the trauma
- They avoid stimuli which can induce the memory of the event including talking about related people, places, objects, thoughts, or activities.
- They could have recurrent images of the event, including illusions, flashbacks, and recurrent thoughts
- Anxiety including trouble sleeping, irritation, lack of focus, constantly tensed, becoming startled, etc.
- The first step is to make a diagnosis to confirm it is, in fact, ASD.
- This happens through detailed discussion with the patient and may take a couple of sittings
- Instances of drug abuse and other psychiatric problems should be ruled out
- People with suicidal tendencies need to be hospitalised to avoid injury to self and/or others
- Education about the condition and empathy to help them cope with the situation are very important
- Hypnotherapy may be used to uncover hidden feelings, emotions, fears, and thoughts which can help in arriving at a conclusion and also manage the condition
- If required, they may need to be provided assistance in terms of accommodation as staying alone may be detrimental. There are good chances of inflicting injury to self and to others.
- Staying with close friends or family not just helps in avoiding injury but also provides moral support for the person which can aid in recovery
- Medications like anti-anxiety drugs and selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors which are used in treating depression are helpful depending on whether the person presents with anxiety or depression
- Cognitive therapy can help in faster recovery and also prevent the acute stress disorder from getting converted to a full-fledged post-traumatic stress disorder
- Prevention can be done by seeking professional help if a significant traumatic event has occurred. This will improve coping mechanisms and reduce the impact of the stress. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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