A review of acute stress disorder in DSM-5

Richard A. Bryant, Matthew J. Friedman, David Spiegel, Robert Ursano, James Strain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Acute stress disorder (ASD) was introduced into DSM-IV to describe acute stress reactions (ASRs) that occur in the initial month after exposure to a traumatic event and before the possibility of diagnosing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and to identify trauma survivors in the acute phase who are high risk for PTSD. This review considers ASD in relation to other diagnostic approaches to acute stress responses, critiques the evidence of the predictive power of ASD, and discusses ASD in relation to Adjustment Disorder. The evidence suggests that ASD does not adequately identify most people who develop PTSD. This review presents a number of options and preliminary considerations to be considered for DSM-5. It is proposed that ASD be limited to describing severe ASRs (that are not necessarily precursors of PTSD). The evidence suggests that the current emphasis on dissociation may be overly restrictive and does not recognize the heterogeneity of early posttraumatic stress responses. It is proposed that ASD may be better conceptualized as the severity of acute stress responses that does not require specific clusters to be present. Depression and Anxiety, 2011.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-817
Number of pages16
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • DSM-V
  • acute stress disorder
  • posttraumatic stress disorder


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