Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a new DSM-IV diagnostic category, characterized by dissociative, intrusive, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms in the first month after a traumatic experience. The goal of the present study was to examine the utility of this diagnosis. In a prospective study, 79 mixed trauma victims who met DSM-IV symptom criteria for PTSD within 1 month following a traumatic event were followed through three months post-event. Dissociative symptoms in ASD only partially captured distress and dysfunction during the first month. Participants with and without ASD showed similar patterns of recovery, with only small differences that disappeared at three months post-event. Interestingly, initial PTSD avoidance but not ASD dissociative symptoms predicted PTSD severity at 3 months.
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