Acute Stress Disorder is a condition marked by extreme anxiety that often produces withdrawal, depression and an emotionally blank state.

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About Acute Stress Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder goes far beyond ordinary stress.  It is a condition marked by extreme anxiety that often produces withdrawal, depression and an emotionally blank state.  Most frequently Acute Stress Disorder follows a serious traumatic event or loss, especially one which the teen personally observes or experiences, such as a death or life-threatening injury.  It can share symptoms with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including one of more of the following: persistent reliving of events, efforts to avoid reminders of the source event, and hyperarousal in response to stressors and reminders of the underlying event; however it is differentiated by disassociation and length of condition.

Because of the symptoms they are dealing with, particularly their feelings of withdrawal and disengagement, a teen suffering from Acute Stress Disorder is not likely to ask for help or actively seek out treatment.  Intervention by a parent, teacher, social worker, or therapeutic program is usually required before treatment can begin.  Treatment of such stress disorders may commonly include a combination of various medications as well as both individual and group therapy.  Treatment can include training in cognitive restructuring or exposure therapy.  Treatment often runs for five or six weeks, and then an evaluation will be performed to help determine progress.

Acute Stress Disorder creates many issues for teens who are suffering with it.  These include disassociation—a condition that affects memory, sense of reality and sense of identity; depersonalization—a sense that the self is not real or is changing; and derealization—a sense that the world surrounding them is not real.  This can be very difficult for parents, as their relationship with the teen will be affected by the changes brought about by the stress disorder.  Parental involvement in the instigating trauma can complicate both treatment and relationship of the stress situation involved in Acute Stress Disorder.

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