Successful Treatment of PTSD and Acute Stress Disorders

If you have recently experienced a traumatic event, you may develop acute stress disorder (ASD). The effects of this can be debilitating, and if left untreated, ASD can progress to post-traumatic stress disorder. This doesn’t have to happen, though. If trauma is treated in a timely fashion, treatment is often fairly straightforward.

Keep reading to find out more about acute stress disorder treatment, and how Emerald Isle Health and Recovery offers programs that can help you manage and overcome this crippling condition!

Effectively treating acute stress disorder

In this article, we look at what exactly ASD is as well as look at tips on treating ASD, both inside and outside of a clinical environment.

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What is acute stress disorder?

Acute stress disorder is an acute, time-limited anxiety disorder that occurs after someone experiences a traumatic event and lasts for up to one month following traumatic events. It is characterized by the presence of at least nine different symptoms including dissociative, re-experiencing, and avoidance behaviors as well as increased arousal.

ASD is considered a psychological response to trauma that can lead to long-term mental health problems if left untreated. The symptoms associated with ASD are often debilitating and can interfere with normal functioning in day-to-day life. It is possible to develop acute stress disorder following a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events.

The causes of ASD are complex but relate largely to how a person responds to exposure to or anticipates experiencing a traumatic event. Risk factors for ASD include prior history of trauma and/or mental health issues, poor support systems, and lack of resilience. Additionally, ASD may be more likely to occur if you have experienced acute or chronic poverty, homelessness, victimization by violence or abuse, or exposure to a life-threatening traumatic event.

How do treatment centers treat ASD?

How do treatment centers treat ASD

Many people consider attending a treatment center the best way to treat ASD caused by a traumatic event. This is first because you have access to all the most effective trauma treatment modalities under one roof. Secondly, being at a trauma treatment center such as Emerald Isle takes you away from normal life, and allows you to focus on dealing with your trauma. Finally, trauma centers can provide you with an acute stress disorder interview, so you are certain that you have ASD and are being given the right steps to overcome it.

Here are a few of the modalities that you can access at our inpatient trauma treatment center.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When it comes to ASD, therapy can be an effective way to address the condition and the symptoms associated with it. While ASD sometimes resolves on its own, you may still benefit from therapy in order to help them manage the symptoms and regain a sense of control over your life.

Therapy for acute stress disorder typically involves cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals recognize and modify maladaptive thoughts and behaviors in order to reduce distress and improve emotional regulation.

Through CBT,you can learn to recognize patterns of thinking that may be contributing to symptoms of acute stress disorder and then work towards modifying these thoughts in order to reduce their impact on mental health. In addition, CBT can also help people with acute stress disorder adopt new behaviors or strategies for managing stress-related symptoms, such as relaxation techniques or improved coping skills.

Psychodynamic therapy

In addition to CBT, another form of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating acute stress disorder is psychodynamic therapy. This type of approach focuses on understanding the underlying causes of ASD by exploring an individual’s beliefs and motivations, as well as their past experiences with trauma.

Through psychodynamic therapy, you can better understand the ways in which acute stress disorder has affected their lives and begin to develop strategies for managing the symptoms. This type of therapy can also help you process past traumas and work towards developing a healthier relationship with them.

Group therapy

Acute stress disorder can have a profound effect on an individual’s social and emotional functioning, so group therapy sessions may be beneficial in helping you understand your own reactions and emotions, as well as those of others. Group therapy can also provide an opportunity to receive emotional support and learn new coping strategies in a safe, supportive environment.

Develop Healthy Sleep Habits

Developing healthy sleep habits can be a powerful tool to help manage acute stress disorder. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and difficulty falling asleep, are common symptoms of this disorder. Poor quality or insufficient sleep can worsen symptoms like irritability, anger outbursts, and difficulty concentrating. To get better quality of restorative sleep, you need to establish good sleep hygiene habits.

Antidepressants and Stressor Related Disorders

Antidepressants Disorder

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat ASD. Antidepressants work by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, most notably serotonin and norepinephrine. This helps to reduce symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, difficulty concentrating, and intrusive thoughts or flashbacks related to a traumatic event. In some cases, antidepressants may also be used in combination with psychotherapy for more effective treatment.

Antidepressants are generally considered safe and well-tolerated by most users when taken at recommended dosages. Commonly prescribed medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SSRIs work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which results in increased concentrations. SNRIs help to increase both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain.

Both SSRIs and SNRIs may also cause side effects such as nausea, headache, insomnia, dry mouth, or drowsiness. Antidepressants can take several weeks before they start to work properly and it’s important for you to keep taking them even if you don’t feel any benefit initially. It is also important that you talk to your doctor before making any changes to your dosage or stopping treatment altogether.

Treating acute stress disorder outside of a treatment center

Here are a few ways that you can both reduce the symptoms of ASD and treat it so that you don’t have to live with it. If you implement these and do not see some major improvements, it may be time to consider going to a complex trauma treatment center.


Exercising regularly can help to reduce the symptoms of acute stress disorder (ASD). Regular physical activity releases endorphins, serotonin and other hormones that help to create feelings of pleasure and well-being. Exercise also reduces the production of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. This can make it easier for you to manage your symptoms and reduce your overall stress levels. Exercise can also be a form of distraction, allowing you to focus on something other than the triggers that are causing them distress.

Exercising with friends or family members can provide extra support and motivation, as well as providing an opportunity for social interaction. This can be beneficial for those suffering from ASD,


Having an enjoyable activity to focus on can provide a needed distraction from overwhelming thoughts and feelings associated with acute stress disorder. Hobbies can be anything that brings you joy or relief, such as playing music, reading, gardening, crafting, painting, or photography.

Taking time out for leisure activities can be very beneficial in managing acute stress disorder. Find something that brings relaxation and focus away from the acute stress disorder symptoms. Finding a hobby that you enjoy and taking time to partake in it daily or weekly, can help restore the balance between work and home life, as well as, provide an outlet for creative expression.

Spend time outdoors

Spending time outdoors can be a great way to help you manage acute stress disorder (ASD). The natural environment provides a calming atmosphere that can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can increase positive emotions, improve well-being, and reduce acute distress. Exposure to the outdoors has also been linked to improved cognitive functioning and enhanced problem-solving ability.

Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life to spend time in nature can be beneficial for those struggling with acute stress disorder. A walk in nature, a picnic in the park, or just some quiet time spent admiring the beauty of the natural environment can help alleviate symptoms

Deep breathing

Deep breathing exercises are a great way to manage acute stress disorder. When faced with acute stress, it is important to take deep breaths in order to calm the mind and body. Deep breathing can reduce anxiety, lower heart rate, and blood pressure, reduce muscle tension, and even improve overall mood.

It is also important to focus on the breath, paying attention to the sensation of air entering and exiting your body. Deep breathing exercises can also be combined with mindfulness meditation for added relaxation effects. Taking regular deep breaths throughout the day can help to reset the mind and curb acute stress disorder symptoms.

What causes ASD?

What causes ASD

There are a number of different traumatic events that frequently cause ASD. If you have experienced any of these recently, you might now have ASD.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters can cause acute stress disorder in people who are directly or indirectly affected. Natural disasters can include earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires. Each of these events is sudden and unexpected and can cause immediate distress for those involved as well as long-term psychological trauma. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, people may experience acute stress disorder symptoms such as intrusive thoughts and memories, flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of certain activities, and high levels of distress. with acute stress disorder symptoms.

Serious accident

Serious accidents can also cause acute stress disorder in people who are directly or indirectly involved. Accidents can range from motor vehicle accidents to workplace injuries and other life-altering events. The suddenness of the traumatic event and its consequences can cause extreme distress and acute stress disorder symptoms such as avoidance of certain activities, intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and high levels of distress.

Physical or sexual assault

Physical or sexual assault, especially for CSA survivors, can cause acute stress disorder in victims of such attacks. These assaults are generally unexpected and often have lasting physical, emotional and psychological consequences for the victim.

Terrorist attacks

Terrorist attacks can cause acute stress disorder in people who are directly or indirectly affected by such events. Terrorist attacks are often sudden and unexpected, and the level of violence and destruction can cause acute distress in survivors and witnesses.

Death of a loved one

The death of a loved one can also cause acute stress disorder in people who are grieving their loss. The suddenness of the death and its consequences can cause acute distress in those affected. Our grief rehab program can help provide options if your life has been swallowed up after the passing of a loved one.

Life-threatening diagnosis

Receiving a life-threatening diagnosis can also cause acute stress disorder in people who are diagnosed with serious illnesses or conditions such as cancer or other terminal diseases. The uncertainty of the diagnosis and its consequences can cause acute distress in those affected.

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Positive Affirmations and Trauma Related Events

Lastly, it’s recommended to practice positive affirmations by repeating mantras or words of encouragement which could help reduce acute stress disorder symptoms over time. These mantras may include, “I can handle this” or “I am strong and capable.”

By seeking treatment and implementing self-care strategies, acute stress disorder can be addressed before it turns into posttraumatic stress disorder. It is important to remember that acute stress disorder can be treated with the right help and support. Therefore, it is essential to take action as soon as possible in order to stop acute stress disorder from turning into post-traumatic stress disorder.

ASD and posttraumatic stress disorder

People struggling with acute stress disorder often develop posttraumatic stress disorder if they don’t receive help. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a more severe and longer-lasting condition that requires professional treatment.

Symptoms can include intrusive memories of the traumatic event, nightmares or flashbacks, negative thoughts about oneself and the world, avoidance of activities and people related to the trauma, difficulty sleeping, feeling on edge or irritable, trouble concentrating, depression, and anxiety. People with acute stress disorder may be more likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder due to their heightened levels of fear and anxiety in response to triggers associated with the trauma.

Acute stress disorder scale

The Acute Stress Disorder Scale (ASDS) is a tool designed to help clinicians assess acute stress symptoms in individuals. It was developed by Dr. Jonathan Rottenberg and colleagues in 2012 based on research that identified the most common mental health symptoms associated with acute stress. The ASDS is an 11-item self-report measure that aims to provide an accurate measure of acute stress disorder, which includes difficulty sleeping, intrusive thoughts or memories, increased arousal, and avoidance of people, places, and activities associated with the traumatic event.

In addition to assessing acute stress disorder, the ASDS also measures other psychological states such as distress tolerance and reactivity levels. It can be used both in clinical settings as well as research studies. The ASDS is considered a reliable and valid measure of acute stress disorder. It has been shown to have good internal consistency and test-retest reliability.

DSM-5: The diagnostic and statistical manual on acute stress disorders

stress disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines the criteria necessary to diagnose acute stress disorder. In general, the person must have been exposed to a traumatic event and display nine or more of the following symptoms:

1. Intrusive memories

2. Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks)

3. Avoidance of reminders of the trauma

4. Negative alterations in cognitions or mood associated with the trauma

5. Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the trauma

6. Anxiety or increased arousal

7. Difficulty concentrating

8. Irritability or outbursts of anger

9. Hypervigilance

10. Exaggerated startle response

11. Sleep disturbances

The symptoms must occur within a month after the traumatic event, last for at least three days, and cause distress or functional impairment in order to meet the criteria for acute stress disorder (ASD). Additionally, acute stress disorder may develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (posttraumatic stress disorder) if these symptoms persist beyond one month after the traumatic event has occurred.

Acute stress disorder can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can overlap with other conditions or be attributed to acute stress. It is important to speak with a qualified professional in order to correctly diagnose acute stress disorder and receive appropriate treatment if necessary.

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FAQs on Acute Stress Disorder and Treatment of Acute Stress

Have more questions about acute stress disorder? Here are some common questions people ask regarding ASD.

Q: Who is at risk for developing Acute Stress Disorder?

A: Anyone can develop ASD following a traumatic event or traumatic events. Factors that may increase the risk for ASD include having a pre-existing mental health disorder, being female, and experiencing a more intense or prolonged trauma. These demographics are more at risk of developing all stress disorders.

Q: How is Acute Stress Disorder treated?

A: Treatment for ASD typically involves psychotherapy and may include medications or other therapies that can help a person manage the symptoms. Psychotherapy often focuses on helping a person process and make sense of their traumatic experience as well as developing coping skills to better manage stress and anxiety. Medications may also be used to help reduce the symptoms of ASD.

Q: How long does Acute Stress Disorder last?

A: ASD typically lasts up to four weeks after the traumatic events or traumatic event, though symptoms can persist for longer periods of time if left untreated. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible in order to reduce the risk of ASD persisting or developing into a more severe mental health disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder.

Q: What should I do if I think I may have Acute Stress Disorder?

A: If, following a traumatic event, you are experiencing symptoms of acute stress disorder or another psychotic disorder, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can assess your situation and provide the appropriate treatment to help manage your symptoms. It is also important to take care of yourself and practice self-care, such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and connecting with supportive people in your life.

Q: Can Acute Stress Disorder be prevented?

A: Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent all cases of acute stress disorder following traumatic events. However, there are certain steps you can take to help reduce the risk. Developing healthy coping skills and engaging in regular self-care activities can be helpful. Additionally, connecting with supportive people in your life and seeking professional help when needed can also be beneficial.

Your Destination for Treatment of Acute Stress

If you have ASD, you may be able to recover by yourself. There are unfortunately times when it is challenging or even impossible to recover from ASD following a traumatic event or series of traumatic events. The risks of this include developing stress disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder, which is a mental illness that can be very difficult to treat.

To diagnose and treat your ASD, make the confidential call to Emerald Isle Health & Recovery today!