Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Treatment plays a very important role in overcoming PTSD. The sooner it is received, the better the chance of a good outcome. Those who don’t receive treatment have a much higher risk of developing other psychiatric disorders, such as major depression. They also have a greater risk of developing a problem with substance abuse (or worsening one that’s already present). This is because individuals with PTSD often resort to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate and numb the painful feelings and memories.
Therapy is the primary treatment for PTSD. Support groups or group therapy can be especially beneficial for kids because it helps them realize they’re not alone and it gives them a safe place to talk freely about their feelings. Medication may be used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression, but it is not recommended as the primary or sole treatment for PTSD. With children, medication should always be used with caution, and preferably prescribed by a child psychiatrist.
Supporting Your Child with PTSD
If your child has experienced a traumatic event, it’s important to watch for signs of PTSD. Any changes in behavior (particularly regressed behavior), sleep, appetite, and/or moods should be noted. Keep in mind that symptoms may not appear right away.
Be very supportive, and let your child know that you’re always available to listen, if and when she feels like talking. Don’t pressure your child to talk about the trauma. The impact of trauma can be very confusing to your child. Reassure your child that she's not going crazy, and that the traumatic incident was not her fault. Help your child to feel empowered and to regain a sense of control over her life.
Trauma is far too often an unfortunate aspect of life. With lots of love, support, and professional treatment, PTSD can be overcome.