Children Also Suffer From PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is unfortunately gaining everyday household recognition. But it’s not just the thousands of soldiers coming back from Afghanistan that are coming home with PTSD – it’s also being diagnosed in millions of young children.

The prevalence of the disorder has pushed psychiatrists in charge of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to include PTSD in its guidelines that help doctors diagnose PTSD in children. When the DSM was published two decades ago, there was little mention of children, as the focus was on disorders affecting adults. Doctors know today that children are also severely traumatized by life events and can be just as deeply affected by PTSD as adults.

With as many as 25 percent of young females and a sixth of young males facing sex abuse, PTSD brought on by this buse is affecting a very large population of young Americans today, which is one of many reasons it’s critical to have the diagnosis listed in the DSM. The inclusion could help early treatment of many millionsof youths, which can help alter the course of their lives.

Suicide risk is high among PTSD sufferers and it is a major concern among health professionals as it is six times higher in these patients than people without a diagnosed mental illness. But brain chemistry can be altered and heart health can be drastically affected by PTSD as well.

Most young PTSD sufferers will have trouble sleeping or be on edge, have nightmares and/or flashbacks or will try to avoid thinking about the trauma altogether. These are actually symptoms adults will share as well, but what is different is that in adult PTSD sufferers, they’ll sometimes comment that the events seem like they are part of a theatrical production, whereas children will actively engage in reliving the events with a sense of agitation or fear.