The Epidemiology of Acute Stress Disorder and Other Early Responses to Trauma in Adults

Quinn M. Biggs, Jennifer M. Guimond, Carol S. Fullerton, Robert J. Ursano, Christine Gray, Matthew Goldenberg, Dori Reissman, James E. McCarroll, Patcho Santiago and Mary P. Tyler

in The Oxford Handbook of Traumatic Stress Disorders

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399066
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

The Epidemiology of Acute Stress Disorder and Other Early Responses to Trauma in Adults


Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by exposure to a traumatic event followed by symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance, hyper-arousal, peritraumatic dissociation, and impairment in functioning. ASD's time-limited duration (two days to one month) makes it distinct from but related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is diagnosed after one month. ASD's brief duration has contributed to a dearth of large-scale, population-based studies. Smaller studies have sought to determine rates of ASD after specific events in select populations; others have focused on ASD's role in predicting PTSD. Much can be learned from existing epidemiological studies. ASD's prevalence varies from 3% in a population of accident victims to 59% in female sexual assault victims. Female gender is a key risk factor; marital status, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have also been associated with ASD in some studies. Comorbidities include depressive and anxiety disorders and substance use disorders.

Keywords: epidemiology; acute stress disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder; acute stress reaction; early responses; anxiety; dissociation; public health

Article.  10725 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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