Merck Manual

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Overview of Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders


John W. Barnhill

, MD, New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2020 | Modified Sep 2022
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Trauma- and stressor-related disorders involve exposure to a traumatic or stressful event. Two of the trauma-related disorders are acute stress disorder Acute Stress Disorder Acute stress disorder is a brief period of intrusive recollections occurring within 4 weeks of witnessing or experiencing an overwhelming traumatic event. (See also Overview of Trauma- and Stressor-Related... read more and posttraumatic stress disorder Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is recurring, intrusive recollections of an overwhelming traumatic event; recollections last > 1 month and begin within 6 months of the event. The pathophysiology... read more (PTSD). Acute stress disorder and PTSD are similar except that acute stress disorder typically begins immediately after the trauma and lasts from 3 days to 1 month, whereas PTSD lasts for > 1 month, either as a continuation of acute stress disorder or as a separate occurrence that begins up to 6 months after the trauma.

Previously, trauma- and stressor-related disorders were considered anxiety disorders Overview of Anxiety Disorders Everyone periodically experiences fear and anxiety. Fear is an emotional, physical, and behavioral response to an immediately recognizable external threat (eg, an intruder, a car spinning on... read more . However, they are now considered distinct because many patients do not have anxiety but instead have symptoms of anhedonia or dysphoria, anger, aggression, or dissociation.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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