One topic we get a lot of questions about at Crestview Recovery is PTSD. One reason is that if you’re looking for a PTSD treatment center, Portland Oregon has few options, and Crestview is one of them. One specific question many people have is about acute stress disorder vs. PTSD. These two disorders are connected, but they are not the same thing. In today’s blog post, we’ll look at the differences and similarities of these two conditions and offer hope for the future. Trauma-informed therapy, often used in the treatment of PTSD, can help reduce life-altering symptoms from negative events. Contact Crestview Recovery by calling 866.262.0531 to learn more about our PTSD treatment program.
Acute Stress Disorder vs. PTSD: Definitions
One reason these two disorders often get lumped together is that they are often connected. Also, the symptoms of the two often overlap. To understand this connection, let’s look at each individually.
Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder, or ASD, describes the symptoms of trauma that set in at the time of trauma or shortly thereafter. No matter the type or severity, trauma causes stress. When this stress reaches a level of severity, patients may receive an acute stress disorder diagnosis.
While every case is different, ASD cases include feelings of disorientation (being unsure where you are) and sensations of an out-of-body experience much more frequently than PTSD cases do. ASD also generally has a shorter timeline than PTSD, lasting three days to one month after the traumatic event.
However, ASD is similar to PTSD in terms of emotional and physical symptoms. People with acute stress disorder may feel a sense of intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Physical symptoms include rapid breathing and heart rate, memory problems, difficulty sleeping, and an inability to concentrate.
As with PTSD, it is important that individuals who are struggling with acute stress disorder get treatment as soon as possible. Treatment can include cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups, and/or medication. With the right treatment, individuals can manage their symptoms and begin to heal from their trauma.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that develops in the long term. PTSD is the term used to describe when symptoms related to trauma last longer than a month or develop later (even years later).
PTSD among military veterans has received significant media attention, but the truth is PTSD can develop after any kind of trauma, not just battlefield trauma. Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, and it can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.
Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, nightmares or upsetting dreams, changes in emotional reactions (such as feelings of guilt or depression), increased irritability or anger outbursts, feeling on guard or easily startled, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.
Acute Stress Disorder vs. PTSD: How Common Is It?
Acute stress disorder can develop after any trauma, but how common is it? According to studies cited by the VA, trauma survivors develop ASD in between 6% and 33% of cases.
PTSD also has the potential to affect anyone who has undergone trauma, whether they have experienced ASD or not. The VA estimates that in the general population, 4% of adult men and 10% of adult women will develop PTSD at some point in their lives.
The numbers for PTSD are much higher in military and veteran populations. Depending on the conflict veterans served in, the percentage of veterans experiencing PTSD in a given year ranges between 11% and 20%.
Acute Stress Disorder vs. PTSD: Symptoms
Another question in the ASD vs. PTSD conversation is about symptoms. This can be tricky because the symptoms overlap somewhat.
First off, understand that there are normal symptoms following trauma, like difficulty sleeping and a feeling of being on edge. It may even be difficult to resume normal activities even when physically able.
This is a normal part of the trauma healing process, and ideally, these symptoms will subside within a few months. But if these symptoms don’t subside, it’s time to see a care provider, as you may be dealing with ASD or PTSD.
Acute stress disorder symptoms look like severe anxiety symptoms like difficulty breathing, racing heart, chest pain, and a sense of helplessness or dread. ASD can also include the psychological symptoms described below under PTSD. When ASD does not develop into PTSD, the symptoms wane after about a month.
The hallmark symptoms of PTSD include repeatedly reliving the traumatic event or events. This can take the form of nightmares, déjà vu, or waking episodes triggered by sounds, smells, or sights. Another symptom is avoiding situations that used to be fine for you, such as crowds or driving.
Another major symptom is something called hyper-arousal. If you constantly feel keyed up and on alert and can never settle down or relax, you may have PTSD. A few symptoms of PTSD include the following:
- Inappropriate emotional reactions
- Feeling nervous at baseline
- Insomnia or disturbed sleep
In the same vein, the reaches of PTSD go much farther than the experiences of war veterans, which was once referred to as “shell shock.” Lingering symptoms of PTSD can be caused by terrifying, extremely emotional, or otherwise life-changing events in various settings. In fact, addiction and PTSD are known to be co-occurring disorders.
Help Is Available
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and are dealing with acute stress disorder or PTSD (or want to understand more about ASD vs. PTSD), you don’t have to suffer in silence. Help is available. We offer a number of services, including the following:
- PHP, IOP, and outpatient rehab center
- 90-day rehab
- Trauma therapy program
- Programs for aftercare
- PTSD treatment as part of a dual diagnosis treatment
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.