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PTSD in Children and Teens

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, has been a hot-button issue for the past decade and more as Gulf War, and now Iraq War, veterans have returned to their families back home in the States with symptoms of the mental disorder. However, PTSD in soldiers and other veterans is not a new occurrence, as battlefield trauma has been affecting those who fight for as long as there have been conflicts. PTSD, as much as media attention usually focuses on combat veterans, can affect non-military members, including women, children, and teens for a wide variety of reasons. Children, for example, can be diagnosed with PTSD after mental, physical, or sexual abuse has occurred.

Events that Cause PTSD in Children

Children can develop the mental disorder through many environmental and situational reasons in their lives. Several are similar to the causes of the mental disease in women as well. Children can develop PTSD through mental, physical, or sexual abuse by an adult or other child or adolescent in their life. However, the most prevalent type of abuse found in children is neglect. Neglect is found to be the type of abuse in 65% of children abused, according to child protective services in the United States.

PTSD Similarities in Children and Veterans

Children can also develop PTSD in ways more typical to combat soldiers, like when they are involved in a traumatic event where they or someone else is badly injured or killed. This can include natural disasters, traffic accidents, or domestic terrorism in the form of public or school shootings. Number of cases reported to child protective services each year: 3 million Number of overall children involved: 5.5 million Instances due to abuse: 30% Recent studies have shown that up to 43% of children will go through at least one trauma in their life. However, only a fraction of them will develop the symptoms of PTSD. The occurrences are generally less frequent in boys than they are in girls, but there are several factors that can impact whether a traumatic event will affect a child severely enough to cause the mental disorder. These include the severity of the trauma, how the child’s parents react, and how close the child was to the actual traumatic event. In addition to other determining factors, traumatic events where a person is being injured, such as during a rape or an assault, can be more likely to cause PTSD in a child or teen.

Age and PTSD

As opposed to whether or not PTSD will occur in certain age ranges of children, researchers have found that how different age children are affected is the more differentiating factor. For example, a teen’s symptoms may more closely mirror those of an adult, and thus can bet treated with the same type of therapy or counseling. When it comes to younger children, their behavior may change in more subtle ways, such as the games they play or no longer want to play. Parents and caregivers should be especially attentive to younger children after they have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. If you know a child suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, it is of the utmost importance to find them help today. Contact us at 877-466-0620 to discuss potential therapy options to help them lead a new life.