The mental health condition called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects not just adults but also children. They can develop it after going through an intense and life-threatening and traumatic event, including a tragic death, sexual assault, natural disaster or a car accident.
For some, they can suffer from anxiety or be in a state of shock following the incident for days or weeks, and then they can feel better after. However, PTSD can persist for weeks or even months for some children who might find it hard to recover.
Now, what are the recovery methods that can help if your kid has PTSD? Check out the following.
PTSD Diagnosis & Symptoms in Children
PTSD is diagnosed if the symptoms (more on this in a bit) persist for more than a month, affecting normal function and life quality.
For the majority, the signs and symptoms can surface within three months or years later after the traumatic event.
PTSD symptoms may last shorter or longer from one child to another. Some of them can recover within six months but may be longer for others.
A qualified mental health professional, such as a child psychiatrist, can diagnose PTSD using a series or a comprehensive evaluation.
To help your child recover earlier, seek the help of a professional especially if you notice signs and symptoms that include,
- Emotional numbness
- Avoidance of places, activities, and people reminding the trauma
- Re-experiencing the trauma through nightmares and flashbacks
- Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
- Feeling jumpy or suffering from an increased arousal
- Irritability and hostility
- Feeling disconnected or detached from the world and people around him/her
Overall, children with PTSD suffer from extreme mental, physical and emotional distress especially when exposed to the reminders of the traumatic event.
You can help your kid recover from posttraumatic stress disorder using different recovery methods with the help of medical and mental experts.
Methods include therapies (more on this later) that can address negative or intrusive thoughts and avoidance symptoms, to name some.
The professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, bereavement specialists, trauma professionals, and therapists can help children with PTSD deal with the bad feelings and thoughts so that they can live a normal life once again.
One of the first lines of defenses that a PTSD sufferer can get is support from his own family. Better communication with family members can help sufferers recover faster.
PTSD sufferers need understanding and support. Both of these play a significant role for a fast recovery. A few things family members, especially parents, can do include helping their children keep normal schedules and not allowing them to take off for a long period of time from activities.
If you’re the parent, you can also let your child talk but only when he/she is ready. Never force the issue on him/her if he’s still unprepared to share his/her thoughts. In other cases, some kids share their thoughts through writing or drawing their experience.
In addition, you must reassure your child that those feelings are normal, but then, you should get help if he/she is having thoughts of self-harm.
In the following are the available types of recovery methods or therapies for PTSD sufferers.
Also called talk therapy, this therapy involves a conversation with a therapist about the events of a trauma.
It teaches a kid different life coping techniques, including but not limited to identifying feelings of fear, talking through the trauma in order to understand any buried feelings, restoring trust in others, planning things to do if another life-threatening event should occur and thinking about the event in ways not involving guilt or self-blame.
Parents usually participate in sessions if their kids are very young. On the other hand, therapy for parents and other family members is also available for those who might also need psychotherapy because they’ve been affected by the trauma
A trauma-focused professional can also help children about psychoeducation regarding relaxation apart from coping skills.
There are also behavioral strategies particularly in cognitive behavioral therapy that aims at desensitizing a child to the traumatic aspects of the event that took place.
This treatment approach can be useful but in combination with psychotherapy if the child is feeling hopeless, scared or anxious.
A few traditional ones include anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants that can make a PTSD patient calm down, be in control and prepared to apply the coping skills learned from therapies.
On the other hand, there is an alternative medicine used in PTSD treatment – medical marijuana. While it is less promoted, it may be an effective PTSD medication as recommended by medical marijuana doctors.
It can help children cope with stress disorder because it can reduce depression, pain, and insomnia. MMJ can also help in reducing anxiety-based responses.
It may work more effectively when taken before a therapy because it can help a patient calm down and be in more control during it.
Involving a discussion of painful memories repeatedly with a therapist, exposure therapy helps children with PTSD recover and includes helping the sufferer to change how he/she is reacting to the stressful memories so that he/she will become less afraid of them.
Help your child recover from the trauma through therapies like psychotherapy and exposure therapy in combination with medications, including medical marijuana, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. Using these treatment approaches, you can better understand, support and help him/her overcome PTSD so that he/she can restore normal life function.