post traumatic stress disorder in children | ptsd in children

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

Post traumatic stress disorder in children can appear at any age, the onset of symptoms accompanying this form of childhood anxiety being linked with a life-threatening event or with prolonged exposure to horrifying and traumatic situations. Genetic predisposition, other existing mental health problems and increased stress levels in everyday life may also cause PTSD in children.

The Triggers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

While predicting a child’s response to trauma is impossible, being aware of the most common triggers that may favor the occurrence of PTSD is extremely helpful when it comes to identifying the possible causes for your kid’s exaggerated and unexplainable anxious reactions.

It’s obvious that physical or sexual abuse and traumatic events such as natural disasters and accidents associated with the loss of someone dear may cause this mental ailment to develop, there are several other factors, which are overlooked by many parents, but can induce increased fear and anxiety in children:

  • witnessing an act of violence involving a beloved person
  • being a victim of school bullying
  • stressful events in school may also cause PTSD in children
  • man made disasters, such as fires destroying a child’s home or other goods and properties of the family
  • violent assaults
  • car accidents in which a family member was hurt
  • hearing about someone dear diagnosed with an incurable condition
  • frequent depression episodes or a family history of depression and other anxiety disorders
  • lack of social support and coping skills
  • teen substance abuse

The specific symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder in children may appear whenever one of these potential triggers is present. The more prolonged and intense the threat is, the greater the risks are for developing this condition.

PTSD in Children and Family Support

Getting professional help is definitely the most recommended approach to this anxiety disorder affecting children, but many children refuse to talk about their problems and fears with unknown persons, simply because they don’t trust them enough. In such cases, family support – seen as part of group therapy sessions – plays a crucial role.

Post traumatic stress disorder in children means more than unexplainable anxious reactions, increased nervousness or avoidance of fear-inducing situations and objects. A child affected by this mental condition will most probably isolate himself and refuse to interact with people or objects reminding him of the traumatic event.

Children witnessing a car accident for example may develop an intense feeling of fear and exaggerated reactions whenever they approach a car or have to cross the street. In such cases, exposing the child to the anxiety-inducing factor is the best solution, but this has to be done progressively and only after talking to the child about this.

The symptoms of PTSD in children may appear while watching TV or playing violent PC games. If this is what happens with your child, then you should change his routines and schedule other activities with less potentially harmful effects. Getting your child involved in group activities such as painting or music classes may be very helpful as they help PTSD victims to relax and replace the negative thoughts with positive and optimistic ones.

But besides encouraging and watching over your child, you should also contact a psychologist as family support is not always enough for overcoming the upsetting symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder in children and about 50% of cases require a more complex approach.

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