Acute stress disorder is a result of a traumatic event in which the person experienced or witnessed an event that involved threatened or actual serious injury or death and responded with intense fear and helplessness. The severity of the disorder may be reduced if professional intervention is initiated soon after the trauma. In this post, a case has been provided where a woman named Rima was diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder, along with the suitable treatment for her designed together by her and her therapist.


Rima went to a theater to see a movie premiere. While she was watching the movie, a man in a mask sud­denly appeared in front of the screen. Holding an assault rifle, he fired into the crowd. She saw many people get shot, including the woman sitting next to her. People all around began screaming, and there was a confused stampede for the exit door. Terrified, she somehow fought her way to the exit. She escaped, uninjured, to the parking lot, just as police cars arrived.

Rima had not recovered 4 weeks later. She jumped at the slightest sound and was unable to focus on her work, and had nightmares. She tried to avoid any reminders of the shootings but still remembered the sound of gunfire and the screams. She felt disconnect­ed from her surroundings and from herself.

Right after a traumatic event, almost everyone is upset. They often feel better within 2–3 days and normal recovery are expected. But, Rima developed an acute stress disorder. Here, symptoms develop after an individual experience or see an event involving a threat or actual death, serious injury, or physical violation to the individual or others. Symptoms fall into the five general categories of intrusion, negative mood, dissociation, avoidance, and arousal, and begin or worsen after the trauma occurred. She had at least 9 very strong symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks, trouble sleeping, and hypervigi­lance.



Rima and her therapist started working together. The main area of treating Acute Stress Disorder is regaining your sense of empowerment. They started with Trauma-focused Cognitive BehaviorTherapy which is a form of talking therapy that’s built around the concept that thinking a certain way can fuel or trigger some mental health issues. Rima was guided to understand her thought patterns and to identify any that are unhelpful. She was then able to change the way she thinks. Also, stress-reduction strategies such as mindfulness and relaxation strategies were given to assist with symptoms of anxiety and high arousal, with medication. After a month of counseling and following the prescribed therapies, Rima has started functioning better.

Untreated cases can develop into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), so early intervention of this condition is critical.


  1. Interesting read! I’d like to look into ASD more. The symptoms and treatment/recovery sound similar to what I saw someone I know go through, but their cause was different. Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s