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A stressed man leaning against a wall with forehead on his fists

Understanding Acute Stress Disorder Criteria

The criteria for acute stress disorder (ASD) can include any stress reaction occurring in the initial month after exposure to a traumatic event. Acute stress disorder is an unpleasant reaction that starts shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and usually lasts less than one month. If the symptoms persist longer than one month, it is then deemed to be more chronic, and the diagnosis changes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Differences Between ASD and PTSD

Person looking worried and stressed in a window sill

Both ASD and PTSD are reactions to traumatic events, but there are a few differences with acute stress disorder vs. PTSD.  An acute stress reaction occurs initially, with the chance of its manifesting into post-traumatic post disorder after. That being said, sometimes you may develop post-traumatic disorder symptoms that last more than a month without having had that initial acute stress reaction.

PTSD symptoms start slower than ASD symptoms but can last longer up to several years if not treated. Another disorder that also has similarities to ASD is adjustment disorder, but like PTSD, there are subtle differences.

Differences Between ASD and Adjustment Disorder

An adjustment disorder is similar to acute stress disorders in that it is an emotional or behavioral response to a stressful event in a person’s life. With acute stress disorder vs. adjustment disorder, the criteria for adjustment disorders involve an unhealthy and potentially excessive reaction within three months of the stressful event. 

Adjustment disorders are also caused by more broadly stressful events such as job loss, a marriage, or the birth of a child. In contrast, acute stress disorder criteria include more extreme causes of trauma.

Causes of Acute Stress Disorder

The causes of ASD can include a wide range of issues, including:

  • The death of a loved one
  • The threat of death or severe injury
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • A physical attack, mugging, rape, or other sexual violence
  • Natural disasters

Risk Factors for Acute Stress Disorder

Many factors may contribute to a person’s risk of developing ASD, and a few include the following:

The symptoms that may develop also vary depending on the type of manifestation that occurs. 

Multiple-Type Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder criteria include many symptoms that can occur during the traumatic event and manifest further through physical, psychological, dissociative, intrusion and avoidance-type symptoms. 

Physical Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations or thumping heart 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headache

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional ups and downs

Dissociative Symptoms

  • Feeling disconnected from one’s body
  • Emotionally unresponsive
  • Feeling dazed and confused 

Intrusive Symptoms

Another very significant symptom of acute stress disorder is the overwhelming feeling of intrusion where the traumatic event plays back repeatedly through flashbacks and recurring dreams. When these intrusive thoughts take over, they can feel incredibly overwhelming and restricting, adding to the feelings of stress.

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoidance is another signifier in acute stress disorder criteria, signaling someone is avoiding potential triggers from the originating distressing event. These symptoms should present themselves at a severe level to be considered ASD, at which time proper treatment should be given.

Treatment for Acute Stress Disorder

Person sitting on a wood table thinking

One successful treatment for ASD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works by changing the thoughts or the patterns of beliefs surrounding the traumatic event and making them a more positive influence rather than harmful. CBT also works to change the behaviors that cause anxiety and stressful feelings that may occur. 

Another treatment option is hypnotherapy which can help address what constitutes acute stress disorder criteria since hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective for dealing with trauma.

Seeking therapy is highly recommended to navigate PTSD. There are many different therapy forms, so finding what therapy is best for you or someone you love is an essential first step.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide range of treatments, including CBT, hypnotherapy, and many others. Our tailor-made treatments are often blended to form an integrative type of mental health healing designed to work for your individual needs. We will work with you to determine if what you are experiencing falls under acute stress disorder criteria, and offer help to process what you’re going through in a safe, supportive space.

Learn how to let go of unwanted fears that are holding you back from living the joyful life you were meant to have. Transform your life, and book your appointment today!.

A happy teen girl holding a sunflower

5 Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

Teenhood can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time in a teen’s life.  Teen stress levels rise more and more every single year. Bullying, depression, peer pressure, social media, and academic pressures are just a few of the social issues that teens are faced with. Parents, guardians, and friends may wonder what they can do to guide teens in a safe and healthy direction. Finding the right kind of teen stress management can make a tremendous difference in the life of not only a teen but the entire household. 

Getting More Sleep

We know that getting more sleep can be easier said than done. A lot of teens have loads of homework, extracurricular activities, and social lives. But, getting more sleep is essential to avoiding teen stress. Experts recommend that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep within 24 hours. 

Some practices that you can use in your healthy bedtime routine are;

  • Avoiding large meals
  • Being consistent
  • Limiting screen time

Yes, you read that correctly – limiting screen time. Think about being at a party and there are tons of flashing lights. It would be near impossible to just lay down and go to sleep. Providing the brain with time to leave the party, come home, and snuggle up under the covers makes a big difference in your bedtime routine. 

Another way that teens can get more sleep is by taking naps. The world seems to scream the word “naps” at babies and toddlers. But, if a teen has additional teen stressors like exams or a strenuous project that is due soon, a nap can contribute to getting in those 8-10 hours of sleep.

 

Spending More Time Outdoors

A teen girl hiking outdoors

Spending time outdoors has been proven to significantly reduce stress and anxiety. We know that a lot of teens are involved with sports and other activities that require them to be outside. But, spending time outside without instruction or a specific goal provides natural stimulation and motivates exploration. Not to mention, physical movement is a healthy and easily accessible way to handle teen stress

 

Decrease Negative Self Talk

Transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts does not only change the way you see yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it. I will never be able to succeed at this”, say, “I can do this. I just have to think of a method that will work for me and try again”. Your classmate may study by only reading over their notes once and get an ‘A’ on every single test. You may need to use flashcards or repeat your notes out loud the night before the test. Using what works for you doesn’t make you any less of a person or less smart. 

Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself every morning and night. It may feel silly at first, but it will help you to feel better over time. Tell yourself that you are smart, courageous, and successful – every single day.

Take a Break

A major key to managing teen stress is recognizing when you’re about to “burn out”. To burnout is to be in a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to being under high stress for a long period of time. This is an awful feeling and it’s important to take a break before you reach the point of burnout. Breaks can be a 30-45 minute nap, closing your study book for 10 minutes, grabbing a quick snack, or even going for a brisk walk. 

Working hard is great and admirable but you can not enjoy the results of hard work if you are exhausted. Learning how to navigate what works best for your mental and physical health while simultaneously accomplishing your goals is essential to conquering teen stress management

Talk to Someone

Two teens talking about teen stressors with warm beverages

Feelings are always “better out than in”. Talking to positive and like-minded friends about teen stressors can be relatable and helpful for some teens. Just like adults, teens can find comfort in speaking to people who can relate to them. 

Teen stress can also be healthily managed by talking to a trusted adult. Some issues that teens deal with are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Family changes
  • Academic pressures 
  • Trauma and more

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy we understand that growing up can feel like you’re stuck in a whirlwind and that’s why we offer an innovative approach in our teen therapy practices. We believe that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective method for managing teen stress. Life transformation starts with taking the first step. Take the first step and we’ll walk you through the rest. Contact us today.

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