Acute Stress Disorder: What Is It?

It’s perfectly normal for a child to be upset by a distressing event, such as a natural disaster or an act of violence, a severe accident, a medical emergency, or the suicide of a family member. However, if a child experiences a particularly strong reaction to a disturbing event, it may result not only in difficulties coping with the event, but in impaired ability to function at home, at school and in social settings. When this happens from 3 days to a month after the event, it’s possibly the result of acute stress disorder.

If the symptoms don’t subside after a month, a child may progress to the more impairing and long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).