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: 3/23/2018 2:20:05 PM

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