Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can affect children who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as violence, abuse, accidents, disasters, or death of a loved one. Children with PTSD may have persistent and distressing memories of the event, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbness, anxiety, anger, or avoidance of anything that reminds them of the trauma. These symptoms can interfere with their normal functioning, relationships, and development. PTSD can have a significant impact on children’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development.
Effects of PTSD on Children
Some of the possible effects of PTSD on children are:
- Physical effects: Children with PTSD may have headaches, stomach aches, sleep problems, or other physical complaints that are not explained by a medical condition. They may also be more prone to illnesses or injuries due to a weakened immune system or risky behaviours.
- Emotional effects: Children with PTSD may experience depression, low self-esteem, guilt, shame, fear, or anger. They may also have difficulty regulating their emotions and coping with stress. They may feel detached from others or themselves or have trouble trusting or feeling close to anyone.
- Cognitive effects: Children with PTSD may have problems with attention, concentration, memory, learning, or problem-solving. They may also have distorted beliefs about themselves, others, or the world, such as feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless. They may blame themselves for the trauma or think that it will happen again.
- Social effects: Children with PTSD may have difficulties with social skills, communication, or peer relationships. They may isolate themselves from others or act out in aggressive or disruptive ways. They may also have trouble following rules or norms at home, school, or in the community.
Early intervention and support are crucial for children with PTSD to help them heal from the trauma and prevent long-term consequences.
How to Help Children with PTSD
Some of the ways to help children with PTSD are:
- Providing a safe and stable environment where they feel protected and cared for. – Encouraging them to express their feelings and thoughts about the trauma in a supportive and non-judgmental way.
- Seeking professional help from a mental health provider who is experienced in working with children with PTSD. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), can help children process the trauma, challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, learn coping skills, and enhance their resilience and self-esteem.
- Using medication as prescribed by a doctor to reduce severe symptoms of PTSD, such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia.
- Involving the family and other caregivers in the treatment process and providing them with education and guidance on how to support the child.
- Collaborating with the school and other community resources to ensure that the child’s academic and social needs are met.
PTSD is a serious but treatable condition that can affect children who have been exposed to traumatic events. By recognising the signs and symptoms of PTSD in children and providing them with appropriate intervention and support, we can help them overcome the trauma and thrive in their lives.
Maple Youth Services x PTSD Awareness Day
Let’s join hands on this June 27th for PTSD Awareness Day with Maple Youth Services, a day to raise awareness and support for people and children who suffer from PTSD. Our mission at Maple Youth Services is to enrich the lives of the children and young people we support. We offer services and programs that help them achieve stability and brighter futures. We want to empower children to reach their full potential and live a happy and fulfilling life.