Brief presentations of information on aspects of PTSD:

  • Warning Signs
    Warning signs of trauma-related stress
    , from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

  • Warning Signs from APA
    Warning signs of trauma-related stress, from the American Psychological Assn.
  • Normalizing Emotions
    You are not alone! description of normal emotions following a disaster, from the American Red Cross.

The Peniston Protocol
PTSD Treatment

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Research and Education on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD in Children

A National Center Fact Sheet
Children often are exposed to trauma as a result of the following kinds of events:

  • physical or sexual assault or abuse
  • family and community violence
  • experiencing or witnessing severe accidents
  • natural or technological disasters
  • life-threatening illnesses
  • war

Many studies have shown that there is a connection between children's exposure to traumatic events and psychological problems. These include not only full-scale PTSD, but also problems with:

  • peer relationships
  • relationships within the family
  • self-esteem
  • school activities and performance
  • sexual behavior (in cases of sexual abuse)
  • emotional development
  • depression and anger
  • physical health
  • substance abuse
  • fears
  • anger
  • guilt
  • feeling ashamed

PTSD symptoms in children may last for a long time, and may include:

  • disturbing memories or flashbacks
  • repeated nightmares and dreams of death
  • belief in omens and prediction of disastrous future events
  • pessimism about the future and expectation of early death
  • avoiding reminders of traumatic experiences
  • fear of re-experiencing traumatic anxiety
  • behavioral re-enactment (expressed as repetitive play)
  • emotional numbness (seeming to have no feelings, except perhaps anger)
  • diminished interest in significant activities
  • physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and headaches
  • feeling constantly on guard, or nervous and jumpy

In addition, surviving or witnessing traumatic events may intensify symptoms of other psychiatric disorders, such as:

  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • dissociative disorders
  • eating disorders
  • major depression
  • oppositional defiant disorder
  • panic disorder
  • phobias
  • separation anxiety disorder

Treatment of PTSD in children generally involves "talking therapies" (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, or brief psychotherapy), and may include the prescription of medication by a psychiatrist. The goals are:

  • helping the child to remember the traumatic events safely
  • addressing the child's family life, peer relationships, and school performance
  • dealing with grief, guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, and behavioral disturbances

It is best to seek treatment from a professional with expertise in this area. Many therapists with this expertise are members of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, whose membership directory contains a geographical listing indicating those who treat children and adolescents.



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The information on this Web site is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider.
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