Did you know that as many as 40 percent of children will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime? While the majority of children are able to “bounce back” from the traumatic event after a few days or even weeks, others struggle to cope with the experience and recurring memory of the trauma. These children may develop what’s known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
In this brief article, we’ll explore some of the most common PTSD symptoms in children, how these children are diagnosed, and available treatment options. If you believe your child may be suffering from PTSD, reach out to Maulik K. Trivedi, M.D., a psychiatrist in Brandon.
Related: PTSD Treatment: Know Your Options
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD in Children
While any traumatic event may cause your child to develop PTSD, this disorder most often results from witnessing domestic violence in the home, experiencing abuse (physical or sexual), sustaining a serious injury, being involved in a serious accident, or witnessing or experiencing a major act of violence, such as a school shooting. Certain factors can contribute to the development of PTSD as well, such as how close your child was to the trauma itself, the severity of the trauma, how long it lasted, how much support the child receives, and the mental health history of the child’s family. Children with PTSD typically experience three categories of symptoms: reliving the trauma, avoidance, and increased agitation.
- Re-experiencing the trauma: The child will continue to relive the traumatic experience either through flashbacks, nightmares, or constant, unstoppable thoughts about the event.
- Avoidance: The child will actively avoid any thought, place, situation, or object that’s related to or reminds him or her about the traumatic experience.
- Increased agitation: The child is constantly “on guard,” meaning he or she may be easily frightened, have trouble concentrating, or have sudden outbursts of unprovoked anger.
Diagnosing PTSD in Children
It’s important to remember that not every child who goes through a traumatic experience will develop PTSD. For a child to be diagnosed with PTSD, he or she must have either experienced or witnessed a traumatic event and developed symptoms for longer than one month that negatively affect their life or how they function. The diagnostic criteria will vary depending on the age of your child; however, a child who meets the criteria for PTSD will typically exhibit symptoms within all of the three categories outlined above.
Treating PTSD in Children
Early diagnosis and treatment are incredibly important in terms of easing the symptoms of PTSD and improving your child’s quality of life. Treatment may include everything from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and play therapy to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and medication. The best combination of treatment options will always depend on your child’s age, general health, symptoms, and severity of their condition. Some children will bounce back within a few months, while others will have symptoms that last much longer. The only thing you truly need to remember is that your child is capable of having a healthy mind and body, free of PTSD symptoms, with the help of PTSD treatment in Carrollwood.
Schedule a consultation with a psychiatrist in Carrollwood today!
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