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Dealing with acute stress disorder

Dr Sacrifice Chirisa Mental Health Issues
In  the weeks after a traumatic event, you may develop an anxiety disorder called acute stress disorder (ASD). ASD typically occurs within one month of a traumatic event. It lasts at least three days and can persist for up to one month

Experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with one or more traumatic events can cause ASD. The events create intense fear, horror, or helplessness. Traumatic events that can cause ASD include death, threat of death to oneself or others, threat of serious injury to oneself or others, threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.

It also includes financial meltdown, job loss and divorce.

Approximately six to 33 percent of people who experience a traumatic event develop ASD.

The symptoms of ASD include:

(a) Dissociative symptoms:

Feeling numb, detached, or being emotionally unresponsive

A reduced awareness of your surroundings

De-realisation, which occurs when your environment seems strange or unreal to you

Depersonalisation, which occurs when your thoughts or emotions don’t seem real or do not seem like they belong to you

Dissociative amnesia, which occurs when you cannot remember one or more important aspects of the traumatic event

(b) Re-experiencing the traumatic event:

Having recurring images, thoughts, nightmares, illusions, or flashback episodes of the traumatic event

Feeling like you’re reliving the traumatic event

Feeling distressed when something reminds you of the traumatic event

(c) Avoidance:

You may avoid stimuli that cause you to remember or re-experience the traumatic event, such as:








(d) Anxiety or increased arousal:

Having trouble sleeping

Being irritable

Having difficulty concentrating

Being unable to stop moving or sit still

Being constantly tense or on guard

Becoming startled too easily

Your psychiatrist may use one or more of the following methods to treat ASD:

A psychiatric evaluation to determine your specific needs

Hospitalisation if you’re at risk of suicide or harming others

Psychiatric education to teach you about your disorder

Medication to relieve symptoms of ASD, such as anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which may increase recovery speed and prevent ASD

Stress levels have been generally high in our environment.

It is critical for one to recognise the symptoms for ASD in your self and those around you. It will help you in your interaction with individuals.

When symptoms are excessive help is available from your Psychiatrist and Psychologist.

Source :

The Herald

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