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Acute stress disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis

Author
Richard Bryant, PhD
Section Editor
Murray B Stein, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD

INTRODUCTION

Acute stress disorder (ASD) is characterized by acute stress reactions that may occur in the initial month after a person is exposed to a traumatic event (threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violation). The disorder includes symptoms of intrusion, dissociation, negative mood, avoidance, and arousal.

The intent of the ASD diagnosis is to facilitate identification and treatment of severe acute stress responses. Treatment of ASD can have the additional benefit of limiting subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is diagnosed only after four weeks of symptoms following exposure to trauma.

The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, diagnosis, and treatment of ASD are described here. The treatment of ASD is discussed separately. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD are also discussed separately. Dissociation associated with PTSD, and substance abuse associated with PTSD are also discussed separately. (See "Posttraumatic stress disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Pharmacotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in adults" and "Psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in adults" and "Dissociative aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Co-occurring substance use disorder and anxiety-related disorders in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis", section on 'Posttraumatic stress disorder'.)

EPIDEMIOLOGY

Prevalence — The point prevalence of acute stress disorder (ASD) following trauma exposure has been estimated at between 5 and 20 percent, depending on the nature and severity of trauma and the instrument used to identify the disorder. Rates of ASD, diagnosed principally using DSM-IV criteria, following specific types of trauma include:

Motor vehicle accident: 13 percent [1], 21 percent [2]

         

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Dec 09 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2014.
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