Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) occur after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event in which their life or safety (or the life or safety of someone else) was threatened. Events that commonly lead to trauma include, but are not limited to:

  • Seeing someone killed or badly injured, or seeing someone close to you in mortal danger
  • Being in an accident that could have led to death
  • Being a survivor/victim of rape or sexual assault

There are three main features of PTSD and ASD:

  1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event. 
    • Having repeated distressing memories of the event that you cannot control
    • Repeatedly having dreams about the event
    • Repeatedly feeling or acting as though you are reliving the event (sometimes taking the form or flashbacks or hallucinations)
    • Feeling great emotional distress or physical agitation when something reminds you of the traumatic event
  2. Avoiding things or situations that remind you of the trauma, along with feelings of emotional numbness. 
    • Trying to avoid thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, people, or places that remind you of the trauma. Difficulty remembering important parts or events that took place during the trauma. Feeling less interest in activities you normally enjoy. Feeling detached from others
    • Feeling like you can’t experience a full range of emotions
    • Feeling like the future is uncertain or that you don’t have a future
  3. Feeling physically anxious, jumpy, or on-edge
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Acting in an irritable manner or having angry outbursts
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Frequently feeling on-guard or vigilant
    • Feeling easily startled


Want to learn more about PTSD and ASD?


UM Depression Toolkit
The Depression Center Toolkit provides information, tools, support, and resources to guide you through your mental health journey.  

A mental health resource database designed by CAPS.

National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
The National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) aims to advance the clinical care and social welfare of U.S. Veterans through research, education and training on PTSD and stress-related disorders. The website provides educational material on trauma and PTSD for a variety of audiences.


Learn more about PTSD sign and symptoms, risk factors, and treatment and therapies.


Courage After Fire by Keith Armstrong, 2006
This book provides strategies and techniques that war veterans suffering from PTSD and their families can use to aid in reintegration into society.

Effective Treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies by Edna Foa, 2008
This reference guide for clinicians provides strategies for treating a wide range of patients with PTSD.

Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, 1997
Author Judith Herman delves into the history of trauma and places the individual’s experience with PTSD into a broader social context.

The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth by Glenn Schiraldi, 2009
Describes PTSD, its symptoms, and options for self-treatment of symptoms.

For treatment and support options, see our find treatment services section or our support resources section.


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