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What is Acute Stress Disorder? CBT Kenya
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  • Posted by: cbtkeadmin

What is Acute Stress Disorder? CBT Kenya

Acute stress disorder is a mental health condition that can occur immediately after a traumatic event. 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). There are several different types of stress, and not all of them are necessarily unhealthy.  Acute stress is one of the least damaging types of stress, which is good because it is also the most common type. We experience acute stress multiple times throughout the day. Acute stress is experienced as an immediate perceived threat, either physical, emotional or psychological.

Signs and symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder is diagnosable when symptoms persist for a minimum of three days and last no more than one month after a traumatic experience. If symptoms persist after a month, the diagnosis becomes post-traumatic stress disorder. People who have ASD experience symptoms similar to those of PTSD and other stress disorders. According to the DSM-5, acute stress disorder symptoms fall into five categories:

  • Intrusion symptoms—involuntary and intrusive distressing memories of the trauma or recurrent distressing dreams.
  •  Negative mood symptoms—a persistent inability to experience positive emotions, such as happiness or love
  • 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.

Who’s at risk for acute stress disorder?

Anyone can develop ASD after a traumatic event. Experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with one or more traumatic events can cause ASD. The events create intense fear, horror, or helplessness.  You may have an increased risk of developing ASD if you have:

  • experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with a traumatic event in the past
  • a history of ASD or PTSD
  • a history of certain types of mental problems
  • a history of dissociative symptoms during traumatic events
  • being younger than 40 years old
  • Being female

 Acute Stress Disorder Management

Acute stress can be easily managed because it occurs and then it’s over. It doesn’t bring the toll on health that comes with chronic stress because it is possible and relatively easy to recover from acute stress. Repeated instances of acute stress, however, can bring more of a toll. Either multiple instances of different acute stressors. Repeated occurrences of the same acute stressors can add up to a state of chronic stress where the body’s stress response is constantly triggered. Because of this, it’s important to have a stress management plan. The following steps can reduce the chances of having your acute stressors add up to more significant levels of stress.

  • Simple relaxation techniques can work quickly of your stress response doesn’t resolve into a relaxation response on its own.
  • Cutting down on the little things that repeatedly stress you, your tolerations can minimize your overall stress levels. You can also take other steps to minimize lifestyle stress. You can’t eliminate all stress (nor would you want to), but you can cut out stress where possible and this can really add up.
  • Learn relaxation techniques that work for you. This means finding ways to relax your body and calm your mind. You can’t always predict the stressors in your life, but you can reverse your stress response after you encounter these stressors.
  • Yes, certain habits can build resilience toward stress. These include meditation, exercise, and more. Taking on one of these habits (or several) can really help you to manage acute stress as well as chronic stress.

Word from CBT Kenya

It’s important to get medical treatment within a few hours of experiencing a traumatic event. This will decrease the chance of developing ASD. The most successful treatment for ASD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Its goal is to change thoughts or patterns of thought that surround the traumatic event. In addition, CBT works to change behaviors in situations that cause anxiety, as well as alleviate symptoms. CBT also works to keep the person with ASD from developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

CBT-Kenya (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Kenya) counseling center offers counseling and therapy sessions for persons from all walks of life. We focus on helping clients gain insight into themselves by going through a healing process. Our purpose is to help you to achieve your therapeutic and life goals, to improve the quality of your life and to help you to build strong relationships in your life. Get in touch or book an appointment on +254 739 935 333, +254 756 454 585 or info@cbtkenya.org.


Author: cbtkeadmin
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