Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that you wouldn’t wish upon the brattiest kid who spray-painted your new car. Most people assume that PTSD is a condition that only adults who have experienced trauma go through but in reality, it can affect anyone regardless of their age. The world may be statistically safer today than it was in the past but this does not mean our kids will never face trauma. If you want to know more about how PTSD affects children and teens, read on.
What Is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when an individual does not recover from a past traumatic event. The individual experiences triggers that brings back memories of the past trauma and it can last for months or even years.
How Common Is PTSD In Children And Teens?
According to the National Center for PTSD, “Studies show that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma. Of those children and teens who have had a trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. Rates of PTSD are higher for certain types of trauma survivors.”
What Are The Causes Of PTSD In Children And Teens?
We try to shelter our kids from any remotely disturbing event to the best of our ability but their safety is not in our control completely. The trauma that both children and parents underwent during school shootings, kidnappings, and hostage situations is beyond most of our imaginations. Apart from incidents like these, some of the more common causes of trauma include abuse, neglect, disaster, adoption, moving to a new city, death of a loved one, and accidents. According to the National Center for PTSD, “Child protection services in the U.S. get around three million reports each year. This involves 5.5 million children. Of the reported cases, there is proof of abuse in about 30%. Also, three to ten million children witness family violence each year. Around 40% to 60% of those cases involve child physical abuse.”
Risk Factors For PTSD In Children And Teens
Studies have found that there are certain factors that may raise chances of PTSD in children and teens who experience trauma. Two of the biggest factors include the severity of the trauma experienced and how the parents react to the trauma. If the inflicted trauma involves someone hurting someone else, children are more likely to be affected. The frequency of the trauma inflicted also contributes to PTSD. It turns out the girls are at a higher risk of experiencing trauma when compared to boys. Studies have also found that children and teens in minority communities may experience more trauma than children and teens in native communities.
Symptoms Of PTSD Vary With Age
General symptoms of PTSD in adults include nightmares, anxiety, depression, high sensitivity to stimulants, and attempting to avoid situations that may bring back the memory. Symptoms in children and teens vary depending on their age. Children between the age of five and twelve are likely to put the events of the trauma in the wrong order. They are also likely to look for signs to predict future trauma. Children who have PTSD have also been found to exhibit behavior related to the traumatic event in other parts of their life. In teenagers, symptoms are more like those experienced by an adult with the exception of acting more impulsively and aggressively.
Treatment Of PTSD In Children
In the event PTSD symptoms in children and teens don’t resolve on their own after a few months, several treatment options can be sought out. It is essential that the parent or adult responsible for the child or teen, seek the advice of a mental health professional to determine the best strategy to resolve the issue. Some treatment options include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Psychological First Aid (PFA), Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR), and Play Therapy.