The term Acute Stress is used to describe a condition similar to PTSD, which occurs in the aftermath of a traumatic incident and lasts less than a month. Many of the symptoms of PTSD are normal reactions to a traumatic event and Acute Stress is used to describe individuals who are reacting normally in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident. A diagnosis of PTSD is made when symptoms persist and interfere with an individual’s day-to-day functioning (Stein, 2004).
In addition to the three symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance, and arousal, individuals experiencing Acute Stress also demonstrate some of the following symptoms: feelings of numbness, feelings of detachment, flat affect, reduced awareness of their surroundings, de-realization, depersonalization, or amnesia related to the traumatic incident (Stein, 2004).
Stein, D. (Ed.) (2004). Clinical manual of anxiety disorders. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.