Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive signs may include thoughts such as:
- “I’m going to be trapped and die in a car crash.”
- “I’ve escaped being killed once—I won’t be so lucky a second time!”
- “The world is not safe.”
Physical symptoms include:
- restlessness, difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- exaggerated startle response
- feeling tense and on edge and/or numb.
Behavioural symptoms include:
- avoidance of situations that arouse recollections of trauma
- intense emotional reaction or absence of emotional responsiveness.
Causes & risk factors
It is not known exactly why some people who witness or experience traumatic events develop acute stress disorder, while others do not. Research suggests that a number of factors may be involved. Like most mental health problems, acute stress disorder appears to be caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors and challenging life experiences.
Adapted from Anxiety Disorders: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health