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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children- Its Symptoms and Remedies

It might sound incredible at first, but it's true that children and adolescents too encounter events that give them both emotional and physical stress. And just like adults, they respond to these stressful situations in some way or the other. While in some cases these responses can be brief, in others they can be prolonged. In many cases, this results in the development of post traumatic stress disorder.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is primarily a result of events that were extremely traumatic or stressful. In such events, usually a serious injury or a threat to life was involved. However, the development of posttraumatic stress disorder depends more upon the gravity of the situation, on whether it was a repeat experience, or on his/her proximity to trauma.

Post traumatic stress disorder in children has a damaging impact upon their psyche. The child's behavior is changed after the traumatic event. Initially this may be evident only in the form of confused or agitated behavior. However, in more extreme cases it may take the form of intense fear, anger, helplessness, horror, sadness or denial.

Children with post traumatic stress disorder may also try to re-experience the traumatic event(s) of their life. This occurs when they have upsetting and/or frightening dreams, or when they have frequent memories of the event.

If a child experiences a certain type of trauma repeatedly, then he/she may become emotionally numb to that experience. The reason for its occurrence is fairly simple, to block or deaden the pain and trauma that repeatedly comes across their way. Psychoanalysts call this development dissociation.

Those children who do not dissociate tend to avoid those things or situations which may result in a confrontation with the traumatic experience. Their emotion responses slow down and they become depressed. In some cases, it may also result in their withdrawal from active life.

Symptoms of PTSDs may also include showing more sudden and extreme emotional reactions, showing irritability or angry outbursts, losing interest in activities, having problems falling or staying asleep, having physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches, problem with concentration, and repeating behavior that reminds them of the trauma

These symptoms can either disappear in a few months or may even take a few years. What is common in both the situations is that the personality of the child is radically transformed.  Hence, it is best that these symptoms are kept under control.

This can be done only with the help and support of family members, friends and school authorities. There is a need to impart a sense of security and safety to the child for his/her recovery. One can also take help of behavior modification techniques, psychotherapy and cognitive therapy to help the child recover from post traumatic stress disorder.