Each year, millions of children get exposed to traumatic experiences. More than thirty percent of these children develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a clinical anxiety disorder with significant behavioral, cognitive, social, physical, and emotional symptoms. It is triggered by a traumatic event. These event can be witnessing or becoming a victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, car accidents or natural disasters. The risk of developing this disorder is related to the severity of the trauma, the proximity of the child to the trauma, and the child’s relationship to the victim.
Days or months after the traumatic event, the child may initially show confused or agitated behavior. They begin to feel intense fear, sadness, anger and helplessness. Those who have experienced repeated trauma sometimes develop a kind of emotional numbing called dissociation. Children with PTSD tend to avoid places, situations and people who remind them of the traumatic experience. They may also become depressed, less responsive, and detached.
Often, children suffering from this anxiety disorder may re-experience the event by having nightmares or frightening dreams. They may also have frequent memories of the traumatic event. They may also act and feel like the experience is happening again. They may develop repeated emotional and physical symptoms when they are reminded of the event. Other symptoms include being startled and frightened easily, acting younger than their age, lack of concentration and focus, problems staying or falling asleep, and losing interest in many activities.
Post-traumatic stress disorder in children is often misdiagnosed. This is because most of the time, the child is unable to talk about his feelings, his thoughts, and his experiences. Given the trauma and the shock, the child is often afraid of talking about it. However, clues sometimes manifest in the child’s behavior and activities. For example, when asked to draw, the traumatized child is likely to draw something that depicts the traumatic event or something related to it. The doctor or the clinician often relies on the family who sometimes cannot provide accurate information about the problem and relevant history. The family may also make no connection between the past traumatic event and the present symptoms. Or worse, the family has no idea what really happened.
PTSD in children is treated with psychotherapy. It may be an individual, group or family session. This allows the child to talk, play, draw, and write about the event, which is very helpful in reducing the child’s fears and anxiety. Medication may also be helpful in dealing with other symptoms like depression and other physical manifestations. Still, the best way to win combat PTSD is through the support from the family and friends of the child.
|« Possible Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives||Power Yoga »|