Traumatic Stress in Children

Win War Against Stress

Traumatic Stress in Children

When you think of post-traumatic stress, the first thing that usually comes to mind are soldiers returning from war, bombarded by shell shock, reliving their memories of a dreadful experience that leaves them with what some call “the stare”. But what many people do not realize is that this is only a small portion of those affected by post-traumatic stress – in fact, children are often the hapless victims of the horror of post-traumatic stress.

The symptoms and causes are remarkably similar in many aspects to those felt by adults, however the far less world wizened children are often bombarded far more harshly than their grown counterparts. The trauma is brought on much like the turning on of a simple switch when the condition begins. The results can be violent and are always nothing short of harrowing – and these psychological traits are usually brought on by a myriad of tragically frequent factors. (“How To Win Your War Against Stress”)

The most common events to cause post-traumatic stress in children are, likewise, not particularly different from adults. Children who suffer sexual abuse can almost immediately contract the condition. In cases of violence, especially involving the death of a loved one, or serious accidents or other natural incidents of trauma, children can have their lives permanently changed. A child who witnesses a fatal vehicular accident can become immediately plagued by post-traumatic stress – a factor shared by many young survivors of cataclysmic occurrences of nature such as hurricanes or earthquakes.

Usually, a younger victim of post-traumatic stress will endure all the same symptoms as an adult, however they must also endure an extra layer of hardships, usually brought on by their underdeveloped or inexperienced minds trying desperately to cope with the situation they have been put in. Flashbacks are a quite common trait of the condition. They will frequently and inexplicably find themselves vividly reliving the events that led up to the trauma to begin with.

But in addition to the obvious flashbacks, a fear of the catalysts that trigger the flashbacks also sets in. Again, this is a shared symptom, as much like adults, children will find themselves trying to avoid anything that reminds them too much of the event, such as a television show depicting a car crash that could remind them of the accident that killed a family member.

Unlike adults, who often try to avoid triggering their flashbacks by bottling up or withdrawing entirely, children are eminently more dependent, and will usually cling to their caretaker or loved one. Much like finding a haven in their family member or guardian, they feel safer away from the images and emotions that rage in their post-traumatic stress environment, finding a kind of solace in their parent or guardian’s arms. (“How To Win Your War Against Stress”)

If you want to help treat post-traumatic stress, it is highly recommended that both adults and children partake in therapy. Armed with a dual treatment of medication and therapy, the Mayo Clinic boasts a remarkable history of recovery for post-traumatic stress patients.

However, the condition is also profoundly serious, and should not be expected to go away on its own. It can have long term, scarring, even potentially dangerous effects on a child or adult, and the victim needs to be able to work out their flashbacks and be able to move on and enjoy their lives. Combating post-traumatic stress could be the desperate boost a child needs to get on with their lives and overcome their grisly past.

Best Wishes, Coyalita

Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist

See Tomorrow: “How to Help a Child Overcome Separation Anxiety”


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