Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Also known as: PTSD.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

All children and adolescents have bad, stressful experiences which may affect them physically and emotionally. Mostly they recover quickly without any further problems.

Sometimes, particularly after a threatened or actual catastrophic incident (whether involving themselves or being a witness to such an event), children/adolescents may experience ongoing difficulties/symptoms which are called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

What causes post-traumatic stress disorder? 

Following the traumatic event, (such as war, abuse, violence, etc.), children who have fewer emotional or intellectual resources to cope, may suffer ongoing symptoms even though he/she has healed from the immediate effects of the negative experience.

What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder? 

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are categorized as avoidance, arousal and reactivity, re-experiencing symptoms or cognition and mood symptoms. They may have ongoing agitation, confusion, show intense fear, anger, sadness, horror or denial, and have reckless or destructive behavior. They may relive the experience, have flashbacks, have difficulty falling or staying asleep and have bad dreams. They may avoid areas/situations that remind them of the event, and feel on edge, depressed or anxious, among others. Worry about dying early, be disinterested in outside activities, have concentration problems, repeated headaches or stomachaches, are other not uncommon symptoms. Symptoms may last for many weeks or even years.

What are post-traumatic stress disorder care options? 

Children/adolescents with PTD need a safe environment, support and reassurance from parents, schools and friends. Psychotherapy (individual or group), behavioral modification techniques (CBT), relaxation techniques, and cognitive therapy, with or without medication to reduce fears and worries, may be required to manage anxiety, agitation or depression.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 2/22/2018 11:16:57 AM

Weekly Support Programs

​F.O.C.U.S. Program

This group therapy program is designed for children ages 7 to 17 with behaviorial issues, including but not limited to ADHD. This support group meets on Wednesdays.   Learn more.

Calm Kids

Calm Kids is a weekly group therapy course designed to teach children strategies on how to take control over anxiety symptoms. Children will learn how to cope with fears and worries, identify anxiety triggers, how to relax the mind and body and maximize their self-confidence. This group meets on Tuesdays. Learn more.

Pain Management Group

This eight-week program is specifically designed to empower children ages 7 to 18 through complex sensory experiences. Learn more.

Teen Sleep Group

This six-week program is designed for teens ages 13 to 16 experiencing difficulties related to sleep, including daytime sleepiness, trouble waking in the morning, difficulty falling asleep and waking in the middle of the night. Learn more.

Social Skills Group

Children and teens ages 7 to 17 are invited to join this small discussion group to learn how to make, cultivate and maintain friendships. Participants will learn basic conversational skills, and discuss the use of appropriate humor, how to electronically connect with others, and how to manage disagreements. Learn more.

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