Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Clinical: Approaches · Group therapy · Techniques · Types of problem · Areas of specialism · Taxonomies · Therapeutic issues · Modes of delivery · Model translation project · Personal experiences ·

Acute stress reaction
ICD-10 F430
ICD-9 308
DiseasesDB {{{DiseasesDB}}}
MedlinePlus {{{MedlinePlus}}}
eMedicine {{{eMedicineSubj}}}/{{{eMedicineTopic}}}
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

Acute stress reaction : Definition

Acute stress reaction is a psychological condition arising in response to a terrifying event.

Acute stress reaction : Description "Acute Stress Response", was first described by Walter Cannon in the 1920s as a theory that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system. The response was later recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.

The onset of a stress response is associated with specific physiological actions in the sympathetic nervous system, both directly and indirectly through the release of epinephrine and to a lesser extent norepinephrine from the medulla of the adrenal glands. The release is triggered by acetylcholine released from pre-ganglionic sympathetic nerves. These catecholamine hormones facilitate immediate physical reactions by triggering increases in heart rate and breathing, constricting blood vessels in many parts of the body - but not in muscles (vasodilation), brain, lungs and heart - and tightening muscles. An abundance of catecholamines at neuroreceptor sites facilitates reliance on spontaneous or intuitive behaviors often related to combat or escape.

Normally, when a person is in a serene, unstimulated state, the "firing" of neurons in the locus ceruleus is minimal. A novel stimulus, once perceived, is relayed from the sensory cortex of the brain through the thalamus to the brain stem. That route of signaling increases the rate of noradrenergic activity in the locus ceruleus, and the person becomes alert and attentive to the environment.

If a stimulus is perceived as a threat, a more intense and prolonged discharge of the locus ceruleus activates the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (Thase & Howland, 1995). The activation of the sympathetic nervous system leads to the release of norepinephrine from nerve endings acting on the heart, blood vessels, respiratory centers, and other sites. The ensuing physiological changes constitute a major part of the acute stress response. The other major player in the acute stress response is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Acute stress reaction: History of the disorder

  • historical sources
  • famous clinicans

Acute stress reaction - Epidemiology

  • Acute stress reaction - incidence
  • Acute stress reaction - prevalence
  • Acute stress reaction - morbidity
  • Acute stress reaction - mortality
  • Acute stress reaction - racial distribution
  • Acute stress reaction - age distribution
  • Acute stress reaction - sex distribution

Acute stress reaction - Risk factors

  • Acute stress reaction - known evidence of risk factors
  • Acute stress reaction - theories of possible risk factors

Acute stress reaction : Etiology By definition, 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.

  • Acute stress reaction - known evidence of causes
  • Acute stress reaction - theories of possible causes

Acute stress reaction - Diagnosis & evaluation

  • Acute stress reaction - psychological tests
  • Acute stress reaction - differential diagnosis
  • Acute stress reaction - evaluation protocols

Acute stress reaction : Treatment The disorder may resolve itself with time or may develop into a more severe disorder such as PTSD. Medication can be used for a very short duration (up to four weeks) or psychotherapy can be used to assist the victim in dealing with the fear and sense of helplessness.

  • Acute stress reaction - Outcome studies
  • Acute stress reaction: treatment protocols
  • Acute stress reaction - treatment considerations
  • Acute stress reaction - evidenced based treatment
  • Acute stress reaction - theory based treatment
  • Acute stress reaction - team working considerations
  • Acute stress reaction - followup


Prognosis for this disorder is very good. If it should progress into another disorder, success rates can vary according to the specific of that disorder.

Acute stress reaction - For people with this difficulty

  • Acute stress reaction - user:how to get help
  • Acute stress reaction - user:self help materials
  • Acute stress reaction - user:useful reading
  • Acute stress reaction - user:useful websites

 : For their carers

  • Acute stress reaction - carer:how to get help
  • Acute stress reaction - carer:useful reading
  • Acute stress reaction - carer:useful websites

Acute stress reaction - For the practitioner

  • Acute stress reaction - practitioner:further reading
  • Acute stress reaction - practioner:useful websites

''' Acute stress reaction - Anonymous fictional case studies for training'''

See also

External links