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Finding Help for Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder is a trauma-related stress disorder that typically presents itself a few days to a month after a traumatic event.

teen with stress disorderIt is estimated that it can occur in anywhere from 20%-50% of victims or witnesses of a trauma. Without treatment, it can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Unlike PTSD, ASD is a temporary disorder. Still, it can be very serious and treating it is important.

Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

  • Changes in mood that impair daily functioning
  • Intrusive memories
  • Dissociation (altered sense of reality, lack of awareness of surroundings, inability to remember the traumatic event)
  • Avoidance (avoiding thoughts, things, feelings, or people that may remind them of the traumatic event)
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, ability to sleep for much longer than is normal)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability or agression

Sometimes, people with acute stress disorder will also develop other disorders like anxiety and depression simultaneously. As you can probably guess, these illnesses can be very hard to deal with and overcome without professional help. There are treatment centers that focus on ASD that can help you tailor a treatment plan specific to your needs.

Causes of Acute Stress Disorder

ASD develops quickly and suddenly after experiencing or directly witnessing a traumatic event. Many different traumas can cause its onset. Some examples are listed below, but there are many other possible traumas that could cause ASD.

  • Death of a loved one
  • Natural disasters
  • Car accidents
  • Sexual assault or rape
  • Domestic abuse
  • Abduction or attempted abduction
  • Terminal diagnosis
  • Surviving a traumatic injury

The symptoms of ASD can easily become unmanageable. If they are interfering with your teen’s daily life, you should seek professional treatment. When deciding on a treatment center, make sure to ask the director and staff questions about how they treat acute stress disorder. Do they offer an inpatient program, an outpatient one, or both? Is ASD something they commonly see and treat? Do they have a program specifically for ASD? What are their qualifications?

There are many resources online you can use to find treatment centers in your area. You can also ask your teen’s doctor for suggestions. They should be able to recommend treatment centers (whether in your area or beyond) that specialize in treating teens with ASD.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at or through our contact form HERE (link).


  1. com“What is Acute Stress Disorder?” Eske, Jamie. February 4, 2019.
  2.“Acute stress disorder: A handbook of theory, assessment, and treatment” Bryant, Richard A. Harvey, Allison G. 2000.

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