Acute Stress Disorder, as the name indicates, is an anxiety disorder. It’s a mental illness that includes high levels of stress as a result of experiencing a recent trauma. As a result, symptoms of anxiety typically emerge within two days to one month.
Causes of Teen Acute Stress Disorder
Types of experiences that lead to an Acute Stress Disorder in teens specifically could be rape, death in the family, witnessing a crime, death of a close friend, domestic violence, or experiencing a natural disaster. Experiences that create intense fear, horror, or helplessness, along with a threat of death to oneself or others.
Up to 33% of teens will develop Acute Stress Disorder after experiencing trauma. Those who are vulnerable to developing this mental illness have either experienced trauma in the past, already have a mental illness, tend to dissociate during traumatic events, or who have had Acute Stress Disorder previously.
Symptoms of Teen Acute Stress Disorder
As a parent or caregiver of a teen who has gone through such a difficult experience, you might be on the lookout for the following symptoms in your child:
- Feeling numb, detached, or emotionally unresponsive
- Forgetting important aspects of the traumatic event
- De-realization, a symptom in which the environment seems strange or unreal
- De-personalization, a symptom in which thoughts and feelings do not seem real
- Recurring images of the trauma
- Feelings of reliving the traumatic event
- Feeling high levels of stress when an object or person reminds you of the event
- Avoiding people, objects, and places that stimulate reliving the trauma
- Trouble sleeping
- Chronic tension
- Easily startled
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to sit still
These symptoms might impair your child’s ability to function well in school, home life, or extracurricular activities. You might see a drop in grades, unhealthy family interactions, or a loss of interest in social activities.
Treatment for Teen Acute Stress Disorder
Treating this disorder with effective and efficient means can prevent it from turning into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder both emerge as a result of experiencing trauma. However, the latter includes symptoms that last longer than a month and become chronic and ongoing.
Treatment for Teen Acute Stress Disorder might begin with a psychiatric evaluation to determine your child’s specific psychological needs. If symptoms are severe, treatment could also include hospitalization and medication.
Regardless, psychotherapy should be implemented to begin a safe exploration of the trauma and associated thoughts and feelings. A common form of psychotherapy used in treating anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which in this case, would examine the specific trauma-related thoughts, images, and feelings.
If you know that your adolescent has experienced a recent trauma, having him or her assessed for Acute Stress Disorder is the first crucial step you can take. Doing so can facilitate your teen’s recovery, prevent further anxiety, and minimize the risk of this illness becoming chronic, turning to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Early treatment for teen acute stress disorder can more rapidly restore the mental health and well being of your child.