Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder is a common anxiety disorder that may sometimes be confused with an acute heart attack due to the immediate physiological responses to the condition. The disorder occurs with no previous known history of the mental problem and has symptoms related to increased heart rate and palpitations that are very similar in occurrence to an acute heart attack (Haynos, Roberto, & Attia, 2015).

The major signs and symptoms of acute stress disorder are acute incidences of intense fear and a sense of impending doom. However, the patient also experiences physical symptoms such as chest pain and major discomfort that is acute in occurrence, fear of losing control and dizziness. Some patients also experience shortness of breath and sometimes feeling of shocking. Sweating and tachycardia are also present in most of the patients, and this is the main reason why the disorder is easily confused with a major heart condition (Bryant, Friedman, Spiegel, Ursano, & Strain, 2011).

To rule out the existence of a heart condition, the patient should undergo thorough blood pressure monitoring. Acute heart failure manifests with the sustained hypertensive state. The manifestation of intense fear and sense of impending doom as the signs preceding the manifestation of the other signs is a major indication that the anxiety is the result of the changes in blood pressure and respiratory disruptions (Haynos et al., 2015). In addition, diagnostic tests should indicate the absence of other cardinal signs of acute heart failure such as fluid retention, intense headache, sustained irregular heartbeat and inability to perform exercises. Acute anxiety disorder is also sometimes associated with an increased adrenaline surge and increased energy which is the very opposite of the weakness expected in acute heart failure (Bryant et al., 2011).

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