PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Information for Parents and Caregivers

Child Mind Institute:  When we think about post-traumatic stress disorder most of us probably picture a soldier who has been in combat. In fact anyone — including children — can develop PTSD, because anyone can experience trauma. But not everyone who experiences trauma goes on to develop PTSD, even if they are showing the early signs of what looks like the disorder.

“The symptoms of PTSD are quite normal to have right after experiencing a traumatic event,” explains Janine Domingues, PhD, a child psychologist who specializes in trauma at the Child Mind Institute. “Anyone can experience an event and have a natural recovery period. PTSD is diagnosed when a child is stuck in the recovery period.”

When children do develop PTSD, treatment depends on their development level, which affects how they perceive and process the trauma. And as they get older, they may develop different symptoms, which may call for more therapy. “You treat PTSD at the current developmental level the child is at,” explains Jamie Howard, PhD, director of the Trauma and Resilience Service at the Child Mind Institute, “and then it might recur as kids get older.”

For children or adolescents who experience PTSD, their response to a traumatic event can be disorganized or agitated behaviors, problems focusing, and issues sleeping. Some children can “re-experience” the event through dreams or memories that are scary. These children may act as if the event were going to happen again. This leads them to feel distress.

Children who are affected by PTSD usually avoid objects, people, or places that remind them of the distressing event. They also do not remember details about the event, and often lose interest in their normal activities. These children may also feel detachment, a loss of feelings, and/or a sense of an unhappy, shortened future.

Also, PTSD can cause children and adolescents to experience any of the following changes in their behavior: (May be accompanied by depression and anxiety) 

What are the symptoms of PTSD in a child? (Stanfords Childrens Health at StanfordChildrens.org)

Difficulty sleeping

Irritability or anger outbursts

Difficulty focusing

Becoming extremely alert

Having exaggerated startle responses 

Feel depressed or grouchy

Feel nervous, jittery, or alert and watchful (on guard)

Lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They may seem detached or numb and are not responsive.

Have trouble feeling affectionate

Be more aggressive than before, even violent

Stay away from certain places or situations that bring back memories

Have flashbacks. These can be images, sounds, smells, or feelings. The child may believe the event is happening again.

Have problems in school

Have trouble focusing

Act younger than their age, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting

Have physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches

Trauma Types: 

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Resources:

These scientifically supported sites are among psychology’s best for helping parents raise their kids.

(NCTSN) The National Child Traumatic Stress Network 

The national impact of the NCTSN is well documented. In recent years, estimates from the NCTSN Collaborative Change Project (CoCap) have indicated that each quarter about 30,000 individuals – children, adolescents and their families – directly benefited from services through this Network.

(Early Childhood Trauma, about PTSD disorder, coping with PTSD, treatment options for PTSD)

EffectiveChildTherapy.org  Mental Health Information Based on the Best Available Science

Effective Child Therapy is an initiative of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology  (SCCAP). The site aims to provide parents and other caregivers with easy-to-access, comprehensive information on the symptoms and treatments of behavioral and mental health problems in children and adolescents. (post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treating PTSD)

Child Mind Institute   What Is PTSD?  

(about PTSD disorder, coping with PTSD, treatment options for PTSD, PTSD symptoms )

Stanford Childrens Health  (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children)

(about PTSD disorder, coping with PTSD, treatment options for PTSD, PTSD symptoms )

CDC: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children  

CDC is one of the major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

(about PTSD disorder, coping with PTSD, treatment options for PTSD, PTSD symptoms )

KidsHealth.org  

Neil Izenberg, MD, a physician at Nemours, founded KidsHealth.org in 1995. One of the most visited websites for childrens health. Our goal is to help parents, kids, and teens take charge of their health.  (about PTSD disorder, coping with PTSD, treatment options for PTSD, PTSD symptoms )

VeryWellMind.com 

Verywell Mind is a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides the guidance you need to improve your mental health and find balance. Our library of more than 4,000 pieces of content, created and refined over the past 20+ years, has been written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced doctors, therapists, and social workers, and then vetted by board-certified physicians.​(about PTSD disorder, coping with PTSD, treatment options for PTSD, PTSD symptoms )

Bostons Childrens Hospital  (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms & Causes)

Boston Children’s Hospital is dedicated to improving and advancing the health and well-being of children around the world through its life-changing work in clinical care, biomedical research, medical education and community engagement. Boston Children's is ranked the number one pediatric hospital in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. It is home to the world's largest pediatric research enterprise.....

StopBullying.gov  

Effects of Bullying.  Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, social, emotional, academic, and mental health issues. 

Childwelfare.gov  (Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma)

This factsheet discusses the nature of trauma, especially abuse or neglect, the effects of trauma on children and youth, and ways to help a child who has experienced trauma. Parents or foster parents who do not understand the effects of trauma may misinterpret their child’s behavior, and attempts to address troubling behavior may be ineffective or, in some cases, even harmful. By understanding trauma, parents and foster parents can help support a child’s healing, the parent-child relationship, and their family as a whole.

(AACAP) American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

The mission of AACAP is to promote the healthy development of children, adolescents, and families through advocacy, education, and research, and to meet the professional needs of child and adolescent psychiatrists throughout their careers. (How a child my get (PTSD), symptoms and treating PTSD)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.