Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. Over the past few decades, a significant amount of research has been done in the healthcare field. This has led to countless new diagnostic tools and treatment methods for diseases, leading to numerous lives that have been saved. Unfortunately, one area of healthcare that has been lacking research has been mental health. Psychological and psychiatric conditions have not benefited from the research push that has led to new treatments for diseases such as HIV & AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Many healthcare professionals believe this is the case because there is still a stigma around mental health. Some examples include:
- Thinking people who suffer from mental health conditions should just “get over it.”
- Considering people with mental health issues as a threat to themselves and their families.
- Doubting the validity of mental health issues at all.
In reality, mental health is a genuine and valid medical condition that can tear families apart. A large number of people will suffer from symptoms of a mental health condition at some point in their life. Perhaps the best way to get people to realize just how serious mental health conditions are is to focus on children. Most people have heard of PTSD, which stands for a post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a mental health condition which impacts people who have been exposed to shocking or dangerous events. While many people associate this with military veterans, it can even affect children.
Statistics: PTSD in Children and Teenagers
Mental health conditions, specifically PTSD, are more common in children than people think. Statistics published in Psychology Practice reveal just how devastating PTSD can be. Important facts include:
- 43% of children will experience a traumatic event at some point during their childhood. Of these, 6% of girls and 15% of boys will develop PTSD.
- One in three children exposed to some form of violence in their community will develop PTSD.
- 60% of children involved in a natural disaster will develop PTSD.
- Four out of five children who are abused, either sexually, physically, or emotionally, will develop PTSD.
- All children who develop PTSD perform worse in school as a result.
These compelling statistics demonstrate the impact that PTSD can have on the life of a child.
PTSD in Children: The Signs and Symptoms
One of the challenges in diagnosing PTSD in children is that the symptoms can vary widely depending on the age of the child. Some of the more common signs of PTSD include:
- Recurrent, traumatizing flashbacks of the event.
- Non-specific, physical signs of illness. This includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even rashes.
- Appearing always “on edge” and hypervigilant.
- Avoidance of a specific place or location which might remind them of the trauma.
- Refusal to participate in activities that previously offered great enjoyment.
- Difficulty concentrating or finishing tasks.
- Expressing a complete lack of hope for the future.
- Behaviors that are aggressive and self-destructive.
It is important to note that not every child will exhibit all of the symptoms above. Some children may only show one or two of these signs. The critical point is that adults who notice these behaviors should take their child to seek professional help as quickly as possible.
Help from a Legal Advisor
Sometimes, the circumstances of the trauma suffered by children merit the attention of a legal advisor. A lawyer can help investigate the circumstances surrounding an accident or injury, helping to determine what options are available. A compassionate lawyer will provide the professional care for those who need help.
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