Dissociative Symptoms in Acute Stress Disorder
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This study provides a profile of symptoms, and particularly dissociative symptoms, in the diagnosis of acute stress disorder (ASD) following motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). Consecutive adult non-brain-injured admissions to a major trauma hospital (N = 92) were assessed between 2 days and 4 weeks following an MVA. Presence of ASD was determined by a structured clinical interview. The occurrence of full and subsyndromal ASD was approximately 13% and 21%, respectively. The majority of those who met criteria for subsyndromal ASD did not meet the ASD criteria for dissociation. At least 80% of individuals who reported derealization also reported reduced awareness and depersonalization. This significant overlap between dissociative symptoms questions the discriminatory power and conceptual independence of the dissociative criteria. These findings suggest the need for a more refined conceptual and operational understanding of dissociative symptoms in the acute trauma stage.
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