Has your family or child undergone a scary event or witnessed something traumatic? Many children may find it difficult to move on after seeing something scary. They may begin to lose interest in their favorite activities, find difficulty in schoolwork, or they may begin to act out violently. This can cause parents to panic.
You may wonder if they are at a suitable homeschooling age and if you should take them away from others. It can be tempting to protect your child by hiding them away from the world. However, your child may be living with a mental health disorder that should be addressed by a mental health professional.
Discover how post-traumatic stress disorder presents itself in a child’s daily life and how you can help them overcome their symptoms.
Table of Contents
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe mental health disorder that can affect anyone of any age. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”
When an individual experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event, they can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Many people will experience scary events and will overcome their symptoms after some time of processing.
However, many people have a hard time moving past their symptoms of fear and stress. Learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder and how it can affect mental health and a person’s overall wellbeing.
Cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by a traumatic event in someone’s life. While this is true, many events can warrant a PTSD diagnosis.
Most commonly, PTSD can include events such as car accidents, natural disasters, physical abuse, emotional abuse, watching someone die, living in a warzone, witnessing regular violence, neglect, bullying, animal bites, etc.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is typically a traumatic event that occurs to the child, in front of the child, or to someone close to the child.
Traumatic events in childhood can be singular or numerous. For example, a natural disaster or car accident can cause PTSD, but so can emotional abuse from a parent or living in a warzone.
The severity of the mental health disorder is based on the individual, their trauma, and the regularity of their traumatic event.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD in Children
Post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed based on the individual’s symptoms and frequency of symptoms. While everyone may have different variations and severity of symptoms, many symptoms are similar.
One symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder in children is their inability to be happy. You may notice your child seems to feel intense sadness, fright, rage, hopelessness, numbness, or irritation.
Other symptoms could include insomnia, frequent nightmares, and a change in appetite. As with most patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a child may purposefully avoid places, activities, and people that remind them of their traumatic event.
After a traumatic event, individuals with PTSD will often deny that their trauma occurred. This could mean blocking out information, memory loss, or confusion around the reality of their trauma. Despite denying the event, children will often have flashbacks that can cause them to relive their trauma. On the other hand, some children will reenact the traumatic event as a way of coping.
Finding Professional Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It is imperative that you seek professional help for your child. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health disorder that can affect a child detrimentally if left unattended. Many qualified mental health professionals are more than capable of helping your child.
With trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, your child can learn how to approach their trauma with gentleness and curiosity. Not only can they address their traumatic event, but they can also learn valuable coping techniques. They can learn ways to manage their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
If you suspect your child has post-traumatic stress disorder, reach out to a children’s therapist for help. As a parent, you can also be a part of the recovery journey.