What is acute trauma?

Acute trauma, often referred to as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) occurs when a person has an ‘extreme’ reaction after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, or hearing that a traumatic event has happened to a family member or friend. Everyone responds to trauma differently, and it’s common to feel a range of different emotions. However, acute stress disorder in response to an event impacts a person’s ability to return to everyday life. A person is diagnosed with acute stress disorder when their response to a trauma is immediate – that is, it occurs between three days and a month after the event.

Symptoms of acute stress disorder (and PTSD) include:

  • Flashbacks’, such as vivid memories, dreams, or feeling like you’re re-experiencing the event
  • Low mood, where it’s difficult to experience any positive emotions
  • Changes in thoughts and beliefs about the world, yourself or others (e.g. ‘The world is unsafe’, ‘I’m no good’)
  • Dissociation, or difficulty in remembering parts of the event, or feeling ‘detached’ from reality
  • Avoiding thoughts and feelings about the event and trying to stay away from things that remind you of it, including places and people
  • Feeling ‘on edge’ and finding it difficult to relax, sleep or concentrate