Acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two of the most common psychological conditions caused by a traumatic experience.
But while they share some similarities, there are notable differences between them.
Let’s take a look at how ASD and PTSD differ so that you can better understand these conditions and seek the help you need.
What is Acute Stress Disorder?
Acute stress disorder is a short-term psychological reaction to a traumatic event.
It typically occurs within three days of the traumatic event, lasting up to one month afterward.
The acute stress disorder symptoms include feeling detached or estranged from others, difficulty sleeping, nightmares or flashbacks related to the trauma, difficulty concentrating, and intense fear or distress when reminded of the trauma.
Generally speaking, people who experience acute stress disorder do not have any other mental health issues before their diagnosis.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event.
Unlike acute stress disorder, which tends to dissipate after a few weeks or months, PTSD can last for many years and can be much more debilitating than acute stress disorder.
The symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts related to the trauma, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, emotional numbness or detachment from others, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, irritability and outbursts of anger, and hypervigilance (constantly being on alert).
People with PTSD may also have other mental health issues, such as depression or substance abuse problems, before their diagnosis.
Differences Between Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD
The primary difference between acute stress disorder (ASD) and PTSD is how long the symptoms last. ASD typically lasts three days to one month after a traumatic event is experienced, while PTSD symptoms can persist for months or even years after an event occurs.
Additionally, ASD requires that at least two out of five criteria must be met in order for a diagnosis of ASD; these criteria include re-experiencing the trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, feeling emotionally numb or detached from people around you, avoiding activities or places that remind you of the trauma, being on alert for potential threats, and having difficulty sleeping.
Furthermore, individuals with ASD often experience more intense physical responses, such as increased sweating and heart rate, when exposed to reminders of the traumatic event.
Those with PTSD also may experience these physical responses but at lower levels than those with ASD due to their longer duration of symptoms.
Additionally, individuals with PTSD may have difficulty regulating their emotions following a traumatic event, whereas those with ASD tend to be more responsive in this regard due to their shorter duration of symptoms.
Treatment for ASD and PTSD
It is also important to note that individuals with ASD are at higher risk for developing PTSD if their condition persists beyond one month after experiencing a traumatic event.
It is therefore essential that individuals seek treatment as soon as possible in order to prevent further psychological harm from occurring due to prolonged exposure to its effects.
Treatment options vary depending on individual needs but commonly include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, medication management services, and/or self-care strategies such as yoga or meditation.
It’s important to understand the differences between acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While both conditions are caused by traumatic experiences, symptoms vary greatly between them—ASD typically lasts up to one month while PTSD can last much longer—and different types of treatments are available for each condition depending on individual needs.
If you’re struggling with either condition, it’s important to seek professional help so you can find relief from your symptoms as quickly as possible.