A child may be suffering from Post traumatic stress disorder after either having or facing an event that was hurtful such as something that caused them pain or sorrow.
The painful event may in some way have your child feel that either they or someone close to them will be hurt or in some cases die. The child may feel helpless after the hurtful event and the hurtful experiences are often repeated or the child relives them, which ends up affecting the every aspect of the child’s life. Treatment for the PTSD is recommended to prevent the symptoms from progressing.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is in most cases caused by some kind of traumatic event the child has experienced such as:
Some kind of terrible accident.
A crime that has either been done to your child or one that they may have seen, such as the shooting of a family member.
Some kind of serious disease or death of someone that they loved, such as watching a family member die from cancer.
A horrific natural disaster, such as a tornado.
Abuse such as physical or sexual in nature.
Terrorism, Violence or War, many children who witnessed the Towers falling in NY were diagnosed with PTSD.
Signs and symptoms of PTSD in a child are usually separated into 3 groups:
Re-experiencing the Traumatic Event.
Child plays, acts or feels like the event is again happening.
Child has bad dreams repeatedly
Child has instances were they recall the images of the event
Avoiding the Subject:
Child may avoid discussing about the event.
Child may avoid places, activities or people that may remind them of the event.
Child may have difficulty spending time with family or friends and may exhibit loss of interest in things they once enjoyed.
Child may have difficulty expressing their feelings or may act much younger than true age.
Child may exhibit a looming doom, as though there is no hope for a future. Child may worry about dying.
Over Reaction to Things, Emotional:
Child may get anxious or stressed easily.
Child may have sudden instances of fear, sadness or anger.
Child may have instances of extreme nervousness, irritability, jumpy or panicky feelings.
Child may have difficulty in school work or have attention trouble.
Child may have troubles sleeping.
Child has seen, or experienced an hurtful event that involved traumatic injury, near death, or death.
Child’s feelings were almost immediate fear, helplessness, or horror.
Child has symptoms of reliving the event, avoidance behavior, and increased arousal.
Child’s symptoms have lasted over time or may have even progressed
Child’s symptoms cause him distress and affect daily activities such as school.
Treatment for PTSD
Cognitive behavioral – A therapist will help your child learn to face their feared object or situation. Child will also be taught how to control mental and physical reactions to fear. .
Restructuring – Child learns which feelings bring anxiety and those feelings are then replaced by happier ones.
Desensitization – Desensitization therapy helps your child face what they are scared of such as an object, a person, or a situation. Desensitization therapy will hopefully help decrease the child’s anxiety or fear.
Eye movement reprocessing – Is a type of exposure therapy while re-living the trauma.
Relaxation – Encourages the child to calm his body and mind.
Stress management – Encourages and gives the child ways to relax such as meditation, breathing exercises, or biofeedback.
Medicines for PTSD
Anti-anxiety – Help your child feel less nervous.
Anti-convulsants – Help control seizure activity, lower incidences of violent behaviors, and help control mood swings.
Anti-depressants – Help to lower or eliminate the symptoms of behavior problems or depression.
Tranquilizers – Help your child stay relaxed and calm. Tranquilizers may also aid the child to sleep better.
References for this article are National Institute of Mental Health and www.aacap.org