7 Symptoms of PTSD in Children

It is common for children to experience some sort of stress that may affect the way they think or feel. Children usually tend to forget them quickly. Such signs are not to be worried about as they are normal and are not symptoms of any mental disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However, some children may experience stressful events that leave an indelible mark on their impressionable minds. They might be experiencing these untoward incidents themselves or observing them to happen with someone else. These long-term symptoms, which may occur for more than a month or so, qualify for PTSD that needs to be intervened at the earliest. These symptoms may be common for children from the age of three years to adolescence.

Here, we look at seven PTSD symptoms in children which need to be addressed urgently:

1. Flashbacks: When a child suffers from PTSD due to a trauma, he or she will try to recall the incident and describe it often in an animated way which signifies the intrusive thoughts of the initial trauma. If this happens even after months of the incident, then it is a symptom of PTSD.

2. Denial of event: When grown up children who can vividly remember a traumatic incident deny the incident, it is a veritable sign of PTSD. They prefer to bury the memories in their minds. But these pent up emotions and denial can snowball into huge mental health issues later. Hence, such children should be immediately counseled.

3. Reacting physically: When children complain of physical discomforts or pain in the body on being reminded of the traumatic incident, it is a sign of PTSD which needs to be attended. Elders may brush off these complaints as mere imagination, but it would be a mistake not seeking advice from a psychiatrist.

4. Difficulty in concentrating: Often symptoms of PTSD in children are misunderstood and thought to be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Their inability to focus on something and to move on to something else is regarded as a sign of ADHD. But children who feel the pangs while recalling the traumatic incident tend to move away and cling on to something with which they feel safe. This is not ADHD but PTSD which needs treatment.

5. Easily startled: Children suffering from PTSD seem to be quiet on the edge and are easily petrified with loud noise or commotion. Those who experienced physical abuse might tend to shiver when an adult hand approaches him or her. These extreme timidities in children often stem from past traumatic events.

6. Impulsivity, self-destructive habits and constant irritability: The constant choices these children make are often self-destructive and harmful to them. They paint a grim picture of their future and tend to be negligent and careless of their personal upkeep. They tend to spend recklessly. They usually do not get along well with others and do not even try to mend relationships gone awry.

7. Depression and overwhelming sadness: Children with PTSD have a foreshortened impression about life and they assume that they won’t last for long. Hence, depression and an overwhelming sadness surround them all the time. Such children should be immediately taken to a psychiatrist for counseling.

Recovery road map

Mental health conditions are treatable, provided treatment is sought early. Procrastination and delay in treatment will only exacerbate conditions.

If a loved one is grappling with any mental condition, such as anxiety disorder, contact the Anxiety Disorder Helpline to know about one of the best anxiety disorder treatment centers in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866–971–7951 to avail the services of quality anxiety disorder treatment clinics where treatment is comprehensive and recovery long-term.

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