Trauma, Acute Stress Disorder, and PTSD
We all have stress in our lives. After a stressful event, we usually feel upset for a couple days or weeks but then go on with our lives with nothing more than a grimace at the memory. But if something with more impact comes along that overwhelms us, and the distress we feel lasts longer than 2 days, we now have a trauma.
Acute Stress Disorder
The symptoms for Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD are the same. One doesn’t need to have all of them for a diagnosis, only a few from each of the following categories:
- Re-Experiencing Symptoms: upsetting thoughts or memories, nightmares, flashbacks, strong responses to reminders of the traumatic event.
- Avoidance Symptoms: avoiding thoughts, conversations, feelings, places, and people that remind us of the event; loss of interest, feeling distant, difficulty remembering parts of the event.
- Hyperarousal Symptoms: sleep problems, irritability, outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, jumpiness.
According to the DSM-IV, a diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder requires someone to suffer from the above symptoms for at least 2 days but for less than 4 weeks.
Although the symptoms for Acute Stress Disorder are the same, a diagnosis of PTSD cannot be issued until one has suffered the symptoms for 30 days. Even if a trauma survivor suffers greatly with severe symptoms following the trauma, they cannot receive a diagnosis or treatment until reaching the 30-day point.
In other words, the difference between Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD is time.
These classifications in the DSM-IV are important because insurance companies and the Veterans Administration adhere to them. Insurance companies won’t pay for treatment nor will the VA administer help for PTSD until the requirements are met—no matter how much the person suffers or how severe the symptoms are.
If you suffer from the above symptoms, don’t wait. Get help now. Contact me and we can talk about it.
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