What is acute stress?

We all can feel the effects of stress on an everyday level, especially when having to deal with challenging situations.  Acute stress disorder, however, is categorised as an excessive reaction to an event or situation that is traumatic.  The reaction can be to a direct experience of the trauma, witnessing the event or hearing about a family member or other significant person experiencing the trauma.  The reaction must be severe enough to negatively impact someone’s personal or professional life.  In contrast to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which symptoms can be delayed or last for more than a month, the symptoms for acute stress disorder generally occur between a few days and a month after the trauma which brought them on.

The symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder may be more likely to affect you if you have had a history of experiencing or witnessing traumatic events in the past or suffer from certain mental health issues.  The good news is that acute stress disorder can be quickly diagnosed, treatable and easily managed.  Always consult with a healthcare professional if you do experience or see an event you find traumatic, and develop any of the classic signs and symptoms of acute stress.

What are the symptoms of acute stress?

The signs and symptoms of acute stress can be emotional and physical, and can include:

  • An emotional response to trauma, ranging from anger and anxiety to depression
  • A feeling of disassociation about the world or being detached from everything going on around them
  • Mood swings
  • Avoidance of anything association with the traumatic event, for example, being reluctant to get into a car after an accident
  • Nightmares or flashbacks about the event
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscular discomfort and joint pain, stomach complaints such as diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion
  • Panic attacks

Because these symptoms can be general, it can sometimes be difficult to associate them with acute stress or as a reaction from a recent traumatic experience.  This is why it’s always important to talk to a health professional if you notice your behaviour or emotions changing in any of these ways after such an event has occurred.

How common is acute stress?

Acute stress is considered to be among the most common types of stress we can experience.  This is because it can occur regularly from the day to day pressures and challenges we face.  It has been estimated that roughly a third of people who experience or witness an event that can be considered to be traumatic will develop symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder.

What are the causes of acute stress?

Generally speaking, witnessing, being involved with trauma or hearing of a traumatic event that affected a loved one can be enough to trigger acute stress disorder.  Events that can be considered to be traumatic include:

  • Death or the threat of death
  • A serious accident
  • Criminal activity such as a burglary or assault

It is known that not everyone will react in the same way to a traumatic event; for some it will be forgotten quickly, whereas for others it can bring about emotional and even physical symptoms as they struggle to deal with the aftermath.  There are risk factors that make it more likely that you may develop some or all of the signs and symptoms associated with the disorder.  These can include:

  • A history of suffering from acute stress in the past
  • If you have been a witness or experienced trauma in the past
  • If you suffer from other mental health issues such as depression
  • If you have a history of dissociative symptoms after or during events that are traumatic

How we help clients with acute stress

At Brain Training Australia™ offer Neurofeedback Brain Training to help our clients struggling with acute stress.

Let us help you. Here is how to get started.

Your first step is to get in contact with us.

All new clients receive a free, complementary and no obligation 15-minute face-to-face Complimentary Assessment with a dedicated member of our team. If you’re on the fence, wondering if Neurofeedback Brain Training is right for you, then this is a really good place to start.

We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life.