A Case Study on Acute Stress Disorder
Acute Stress Disorder, Case Study Nov 23, 2023


This case study delves into the experiences of Alex. he is a 32-year-old individual who developed Acute Stress Disorder following a traumatic incident. The aim is to explore the symptoms, causes, and the therapeutic journey toward recovery. Understanding Acute Stress Disorder: Signs, Causes, and Treatment


Alex was involved in a severe car accident three weeks ago. A head-on collision marked the incident. It resulted in significant injuries to both Alex and the other driver. While physical recovery was underway, emotional distress and troubling symptoms began to surface

1. Symptoms Presentation:

Within days of the accident, Alex started experiencing intrusive memories of the crash, often manifesting as vivid flashbacks and distressing nightmares. Sleep disturbances became a nightly ordeal, and heightened alertness and irritability became prominent. Alex struggled to discuss the accident, avoiding any conversation or reminder related to the traumatic event.

2. Initial Assessment:

Recognizing the severity of symptoms, Alex’s primary care physician referred them to a mental health professional for a comprehensive assessment. The diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 for Acute Stress Disorder were used to check the presentation.

3. Diagnosis Confirmation:

The mental health professional confirmed the diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder based on the presence of intrusive memories, negative mood, dissociation, avoidance, and arousal reactivity. The symptoms were linked to the traumatic incident and had persisted for over two weeks.

4. Causes:

The contributing factors to the development of ASD in Alex’s case included the intensity of the car accident, the perception of a life-threatening event, and a lack of emotional preparedness. Personal vulnerability stemming from past traumas added complexity to the psychological response.

5. Treatment and Management:

Psychotherapy. Alex engaged in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), focusing on cognitive restructuring and exposure therapy. Addressing maladaptive thought patterns and confronting the memories of the accident were central components.

Medication. Considering the intensity of symptoms, a short-term prescription of an anti-anxiety medication was provided to reduce acute distress and help engagement in therapy.

Support Network. Encouraging the involvement of close friends and family in the therapeutic process was emphasized to enhance the support network around Alex.

6. Progress and Recovery:

Over several weeks, Alex demonstrated significant progress. Intrusive memories and nightmares decreased in frequency, and the emotional distress associated with discussing the accident lessened. Sleep patterns improved, and Alex started to reintegrate into daily activities.

7. Long-Term Outlook:

While ASD symptoms diminished, the mental health professional and Alex collaborated on strategies for continued support. Monitoring for potential transition to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and reinforcing coping mechanisms were integral aspects of the long-term plan.


This case study highlights the complex interplay of factors contributing to the development of Acute Stress Disorder. Through a combination of psychotherapeutic interventions, medication, and a supportive network, Alex navigated the aftermath of trauma and embarked on a path toward recovery. The case underscores the importance of early recognition and tailored treatment for individuals grappling with acute stress disorder.

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela
About author

Karuna Kaul is psycho socio clinical psychologist, who works with all age group people. Her profession motivates her to serve people who are facing behavioral issues. She has over 8 years of experience and has successfully established credibility in the areas of counselling and wellness. Assessment and behavioral analysis and training and coaching. She has been an active advocate of mental health awareness. And all her endeavors in the field are primarily focused on educating more and more people about Mental Health concerns and promoting Holistic Wellbeing. She has done master in clinical psychology PG Diploma in counselling and guidance and certified in drug addiction counselling Also she has done neuro medicine psychology from London University, Kent College of United Kingdom. With an experience of six years, she had worked with various organization which provides mental health services.