Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD is mental illness that can effect any individual who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Apart from adults, children are equally vulnerable to this disorder although they might express the symptoms in a different manner.
The different ways children express PTSD:
- Children may not express PTSD through flashbacks or difficulty remembering the trauma, like adults with PTSD usually does. They might, although, put the incident in a wrong order.
- They may also assume that there were signs of the trauma before it happened. And will expect to see these signs before another traumatic event occur. Believing that if they pay close attention to these signs the trauma can be avoided.
- They may also express symptoms of recurring memories of the trauma through play. They may keep repeating a particular part of the event in their play. At times they also try and fit these parts into daily life.
- Teens express the symptoms similarly like adults. But they are more likely to show impulsivity and aggression.
Impact of trauma on a child can be destructing on their development, as they have limited intellectual and emotional resources to cope with. An adult, if affected by a trauma can be healed and they can later go back and start functioning normally. A child may not be able to do this as they might feel off track from their friends and school activities.
Traumatic incidents that can cause PTSD in children: These incidents may be experienced first-hand, witnessed or heard from someone.
- Seeing someone getting badly injured or killed.
- Neglect from parents
- Physical abuse
- Accidents, such as road accidents, planes crash, etc
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological or mental abuse
- Natural disasters like tsunami or cyclone
Occurrence of PTSD depends on the severity of the trauma, reaction of parents or loved ones to the trauma and how far or near the child was to the incident.
The therapies for treating PTSD in children are similar to those of adults. In addition to that two treatment options are seen effective:
Psychological first aid or Crisis management: Also known as PFA are effective on children as it can be integrated in schools. Here the students is provided support and comfort and are encouraged that their reaction to trauma is normal. Students here are provided relaxation and problem solving skill. It also guides the parents in dealing with the child’s behaviour.
Play therapy: Here the child uses drawings, toy, stories and role plays to express their distress associated to the trauma. These similar techniques are used by the therapist to help the child process the trauma and respond to it effectively.
PTSD for a child can be life changing. But since they are still developing they can be taught effective coping strategies. Above all these support from parents and friends are essential as they can provide a safer and positive environment the child needs. For PTSD treatment options for children, call our specialists now on +919741476476.