Quarterly Newsletter

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children and Teenagers

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Children and Teenagers may develop PTSD after experiencing a terrifying or dangerous event such as:

  • Unexpected loss of a loved one

  • Physical or sexual abuse or witness to abuse

  • A victim or witness of a violent act

  • Involved in or witness to an unexpected event, such as a car accident or fire

  • Involved in any event where they thought that they might be killed

PTSD can be seen as early as 3 months or even years later.

What are the signs of PTSD?

  • Feelings of reliving the event

  • Headaches and stomach aches that are not related to other illnesses

  • Having difficulties falling or staying asleep

  • Angry outbursts or easily frustrated

  • Being irritable or jumpy

  • When a child or teen acts younger than their developmental age

  • Worrying about dying or being overly anxious

  • Difficulty trusting or feeling close to others.

  • Changes in your childís grades

What can I do as a parent?

PTSD can be treated successfully by a trained professional therapist and/or psychiatrist. Educate yourself on the symptoms and work with the professional team in order to help your child cope with the trauma. Work with your childís school staff because your child maybe functioning differently in school. Informing the staff and having them discuss a course of action with the professional team, allows your child the time it will take to heal.

What can a Therapist/Psychiatrist do to help?

A professional team can help provide support to the child, parent, and family members by exploring the family strengths and improve coping skills. The team can work with the school in order to create a plan that allows the child to heal, but remain successful in school. The therapist can explore all of the childís symptoms and discuss ways that affectively and appropriately will make the child feel better and reduce such symptoms. A psychiatrist can provide medications to reduce overwhelming and dysfunctional feelings of anxiety and depression and/or medication that can help your child sleep (if that is debilitating him/her).

Therapists can try several different approaches to find the one that the child/teen responds best to. Cognitive-Behavioral is a combination of altering the thoughts that the child/teen has towards the event as well as giving assignments to the child/teen that address those fears. This methodology has been proven quite successful for most people. The Second successful approach can be with Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). This is a technique which allows someone to process the event consciously with Rapid Eye Movement (which occurs in sleep). This process has also been proven quite successful in reducing the symptoms, but also the long-term effects of a traumatic situation. However, a therapist must be trained and certified with this procedure.

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