Whereas PTSD can first be diagnosed 1 month after exposure to a traumatic event, acute stress disorder (ASD) can be diagnosed as soon as 2 days after exposure (ApA, 2000). Similar to PTSD, ASD results from exposure to a traumatic event in which the individual feels threatened by death or serious injury and experiences intense emotions, such as fear, helplessness, or horror. in addition, the individual must experience some dissociative symptoms either during or after the event. Dissociative symptoms include feeling emotionally numb or detached from the situation, feeling in a daze, and having the sense that the experience is somehow unreal or that the experience is not happening (ApA, 2000). Similar to the PTSD diagnosis, ASD also involves reexperiencing, avoidance, and arousal symptoms. The symptoms must cause the individual distress or cause impairment in functioning.
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