PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.
PTSD can occur at any age and is directly associated with exposure to trauma. Adults and children who have PTSD represent a relatively small portion of those who have been exposed to trauma. This difference is not yet well understood but we do know that there are risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood to develop PTSD. Risk factors can include prior experiences of trauma, and environmental factors such as lack of social support.
A diagnosis of PTSD requires a discussion with a trained professional. Symptoms of PTSD generally fall into these broad categories:
Young children can also develop PTSD, and the symptoms are different from those of adults. (This recent recognition by the field is a major step forward and research is ongoing.) Young children lack the ability to convey some aspects of their experience. Behavior (e.g. clinging to parents) is often a better clue than words, and developmental achievements in an impacted child might slip back (e.g. reversion to not being toilet trained in a 4-year-old).
It is essential that a child be assessed by a professional who is skilled in the developmental responses to stressful events. A pediatrician or child mental health clinician can be a good start.
While symptoms for PTSD often arise within the first 3 months after a traumatic event, many times it takes months or even years for symptoms to appear.
Although Post-traumatic Stress Disorder does indeed affect our war vets; the fact is, PTSD can develop in anyone, including children. Research tells us that 70% of all Americans within their lifetime will experience some type of major traumatic event. Out of that group, about 20% will develop symptoms of PTSD.
This is a common PTSD myth that can be difficult to combat. While the majority of people who go through a traumatic ordeal do go on to readjust to normal life after a period of time, not everyone can, and it has nothing to do with mental weakness.
Many other factors go into determining whether or not someone goes on to develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, including but not limited to:
Though PTSD cannot be cured, it can be treated and managed in several ways.
Medical Disclaimer: Brain Health Bootcamp aims to promote education and awareness of mental health conditions among adolescents, families, and educators. We publish material that is researched, cited, and drawn from sources reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.