Post-traumatic stress disorder in children: Symptoms and Treatment

Mind Mind
12-14 12-14
Post-traumatic stress disorder in children


Each individual in their life faces a trauma of some or the other kind. Many of us are able to get out of the trauma, but few are unable to, which haunts them and affect their daily life activities. Trauma means any deeply disturbing experience. “Post-traumatic stress disorder is when the trauma starts to affect daily life."


What is Post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD develops the memories of the past traumatic events like the death of a family member or loved ones, witnessing car accidents, facing physical or sexual abuse, family abuse, and environmental destruction or witnessing any terrifying events. In this disorder, the person is unable to recover from the trauma. 


Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are very difficult to identify. And it is even more difficult to identify in kids. Most people think that the trauma which the person is facing will automatically fade away with time. But, the question arises, how will the family members know that the child is suffering from it? It is when the memory of trauma stays for a long period of time like for more than one month. 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms in children are as follows:

1. Psychological symptoms

a. Nightmares - The child will have nightmares which will constantly remind them of the trauma and he will be unable to sleep properly; 

b. Flashback - They automatically will have flashbacks of the traumatic event. For instance, if a child has witnessed a car accident and is disturbed after seeing it then in his mind, the event will automatically flash and make him upset. 

c. Intrusive thought - Intrusive thoughts are the stuck thoughts. Meaning, the traumatic event keeps on replaying in the mind of the child. It affects their present life. Like they will be afraid to step out of the house or will have a loss of interest in the daily activities. Also, they will have unwanted thoughts popping in their head. 

d. Also, they have fear and anxiety.

Symptoms of PTSD

2. Behavioural symptoms: 

a. The child will avoid the situations or environment which reminds him of the trauma. For example, if the child has faced physical abuse in school or in the park then they will deny going school or parks.

b. Smallest thing triggers them - Little things will trigger them and they will get irritated and angry often. Also, they will have self-destructive behaviour, which means they will try to harm themselves.

c. Loss of interest - they will have a loss of interest in the activities which they earlier enjoyed. Like the loss of interest in playing, going to birthday parties, meeting friends, dancing, and many more.

Seeing these symptoms, you may think that the child is misbehaving or is creating unnecessary drama. So, make sure to identify the symptoms with good observation and if the symptoms remain for more than a month then you should definitely seek help. Keep these symptoms in mind if they have faced any traumatic situation. Some children are unable to express the trauma so they express their fear or traumatic experience through painting or drawing.


What is the treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder?

The treatment of post-traumatic disorder in children includes:

1. Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy, eye movement desensitization;

2. Through medications. 

The method of therapy is through a talk which focuses on dealing with negative thoughts and behaviours. 

Treatment for PTSD


Read | Crushing the mental-illness stigma


How parents and other family members can help their child with post-traumatic stress disorder?

1. Create an open environment where children can speak to you about anything and everything.

2. Be a good listener. When your child is telling you about their feelings and about what they have gone through, listen to them carefully and patiently. Also, understand their feelings. Accept their feelings without being judgemental.

3. Try to encourage them to do activities which they used to do it before the trauma.

4. Engage them with activities and encourage them to do physical exercise and breathing exercise.

5. Make sure they are eating properly and are on a healthy diet.

6. Spend time with them and love them unconditionally.

7. Take help from others who knows about this disorder or are dealing or have dealt with this disorder. Talk to them and take their guidance.

Helping children with PTSD

8. Don’t hesitate to take your child for psychotherapy. Consulting a psychotherapist does not label your child as “mad.” It will be of your great help and will be very beneficial for your child.

9. Come to a solution to their bad situation together. Discuss together and come up with a possible and effective solution. This will make your child brave and will make them capable to deal with the problems.

10. Create a healthy atmosphere in the house. Make sure you and your partner does not have fights every day or are violent and abusive towards each other. Because for children you are their role model.

11. Always remember that in the end, you are their only support. Thus, make sure you give acceptance and validation to their feeling. Because you are the only ray of hope for them.

Thus, I will conclude by saying, a person of any age can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. And, it is difficult to recognize mostly in children. Although through their behaviours, you can get a hint that something is wrong. Recognize the symptoms mentioned above and talk to them and about their feelings on a regular basis. Do not feel shy or embarrassed to take the help of others. Approach your close one and take help from them. Take help from social organizations. Take help from the therapist and ask how to help the child cope up with the post-traumatic disorder. Accept and give validation to their feeling. Listen and understand their feelings and situation. Spend time with them and show your love every day.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is treatable. Many people are out there who have dealt with this disorder and are now living their life happily and as a brave and strong person. Your child will also get through this with your support and the proper treatment. Thus, help your child grow stronger.

This article has been reviewed by our panel. The points, views and suggestions put forth in this article have been expressed keeping the best interests of fellow parents in mind. We hope you found the article beneficial.
stress management
3 years ago
The article is good.

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