Do You Or Your Loved One Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Acute Stress Disorder? 

Both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder are serious conditions that happen to people after they experience serious trauma. Oftentimes these diseases are associated with soldiers who have experienced combat and other traumatic experiences on the battlefield. As many as 24 percent of warfighters who experienced combat in America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan display some symptoms of PTSD. But people do recover from these conditions. 

Experiencing PTSD or Acute stress disorder does not indicate weakness. It does not indicate something is wrong with those who suffer from these conditions, and it does not indicate any kind of moral failing. These are diseases that happen to the toughest, most highly trained warfighters in the world. They are a reaction— a complicated reaction— that the brain takes to protect itself from traumatic experiences.  

It is also possible that those who have never seen combat display symptoms of PTSD, including those who have undergone traumatic experiences such as experiencing violence, traumatic accidents like car and industrial accidents, and natural disasters. Even people who experience traumatic or repeated traumatic events secondhand can get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is called secondary PTSD— it can happen to anyone, including marines.  

So, what is the difference between the two disorders? Do they affect one another? And is treatment available? (This answer to this last question is a definitive yes.) 


What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? 

PTSD is a syndrome that may happen to people who have been part of or witnessed a traumatic event, “outside of normal human experience”. It is characterized by symptoms including flashbacks to the traumatic event, nightmares and night terrors of the traumatic event, and avoidance of triggers that may remind the sufferer of the traumatic event. 

PTSD is characterized by intrusion. These are unwanted thoughts that the sufferer just can’t seem to get rid of, and which pop up at inappropriate and inopportune times. It often includes symptoms of what psychologists call “arousal” or heightened anxiety, anger, outbursts and the like. 

In addition, sufferers can experience altered moods, from severe anxiety to depression to agitation. These often include distortions of one’s self image or their surroundings, including loss of trust in once trustworthy individuals or situations. Sufferers of PTSD can be in a heightened state of vigilance and become unable to feel joy or happiness in things that once gave them pleasure. 

Importantly, people must experience these symptoms for more than 28 days after the traumatic experience to be diagnosed with PTSD. 


What Is Acute Stress Disorder? 

Acute Stress Disorder is similar to PTSD, but exists in a shorter timeframe than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, generally fewer than four weeks. 

The symptoms are similar. People with ASD display avoidant behaviors for triggers reminding the sufferer of the traumatic event. They can have amnesia concerning the event, IE not remembering exactly what happened or only remembering parts of the event. Sufferers can have extreme anxiety generally, and extreme anxiety in situations which remind them of the traumatic event. 

People with ASD also can have nightmares about the event or waking flashbacks. They can have a condition called hypervigilance, which means always feeling “on guard” or never being able to relax. Symptoms also include outbursts of anger and sadness and other mood disorders. People with ASD can also have trouble sleeping and concentrating. 


Are There Differences Between PTSD And Acute Stress Disorder? 

The main difference between PTSD and ASD is the timeframe. PTSD is a long-term disorder, while ASD by definition can last no longer than four weeks. If symptoms last longer than four weeks a diagnosis of PTSD is recommended.

There are also some subtle differences in symptoms. Those with Acute Stress Disorder most often experience symptoms of “dissociation”, such as amnesia concerning the event, while PTSD sufferers most often experience “intrusion”: flashbacks, nightmares, heightened states of arousal, etc.  

The risks of getting PTSD when one experiences ASD is high. About 80 percent of people who experience ASD also develop PTSD. People can also develop PTSD without having ASD, although this is much less common. 


Help For Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Are Available 

At Journey Pure, we make every attempt possible to care for our veterans. Those who defended us on the battlefield deserve to be defended and cared for back home. If you think you may be experiencing either of those conditions, we can help. There are many different therapeutic methods, including talk therapy and psychoactive drugs, that can help ease the suffering and manage the disease. 

Especially if your symptoms include alcohol or drug abuse—common co-conditions with PTSD— we are happy to help in any way we can. Contact JourneyPure today at: (800) 311-1677 to be on your way on the road to recovery.  

Staff Spotlight

  • years in the field

Have Questions?
Ask Our Expert Doctors.

Drug, Alcohol & Mental Health Questions Answered by the Doctors at JourneyPure.

What Happens Now?

  • Getting help is as easy as picking up the phone.
  • We will answer all your questions and provide an assessment.
  • We will help arrange for you to come to the program and begin recovery.