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Acute Stress Disorder E008

Document
Last amended 
24 October 2019
Current RMA Instruments
Reasonable Hypothesis SOP
41 of 2014
Balance of Probabilities SOP
42 of 2014
Changes from previous Instruments

SOP Bulletin 174

ICD Coding
  • ICD-9-CM Codes: 308
  • ICD-10-AM Codes: F43.0, F43.8, F43.9
Brief description

This is a psychiatric disorder resulting as a specific reaction from exposure to a stressor.  It is part of the family of stressor-related disorders which includes posttraumatic stress disorder.

Confirming the diagnosis 

This diagnosis needs to be made by a qualified psychiatrist in accordance with the DSM-5 criteria and the Repatriation Commission Guidelines for Psychiatric Compensation Claims.   Acute stress disorder is a direct response to a stressor, so a stressor said to cause the condition must be the same as the one that gives rise to the diagnosis.

Note also that this diagnosis can only be made in the period between 3 days and 1 month after the relevant traumatic event.  Beyond that 1 month period the condition will have either remitted or progressed to become posttraumatic stress disorder. 

Therefore, if dealing with a claim lodged more than 1 month after the inciting stressor, a current diagnosis of acute stress disorder cannot apply.  A diagnosis of 'acute stress disorder - resolved' can be made or, if appropriate, an alternative diagnosis for any persiting psychiatric disorder (PTSD or another psychiatric condition) should be established.

Additional diagnoses covered by SOP
  • Nil
Conditions excluded from SOP
  • Adjustment disorder with anxious mood
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
Clinical onset

The condition begins at the time of the inciting trauma. 

Clinical worsening

The diagnosis ceases to apply beyond one month after the causative stressor occurred, so any contended worsening would need to happen within that time.  Progression to PTSD represents onset of that condition, not worsening of acute stress disorder.