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 Anxiety  Holistic-online.com

Coping with Violence and Disasters
Strategies for Helping Children and Adolescents

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

As mentioned earlier, some children and adolescents will have prolonged problems after a traumatic event. These potentially chronic conditions include depression and prolonged grief. Another serious and potentially long-lasting problem is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition is diagnosed when the following symptoms have been present for longer than one month:

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Re-experiencing the event through play or in trauma-specific nightmares or flashbacks, or distress over events that resemble or symbolize the trauma.

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Routine avoidance of reminders of the event or a general lack of responsiveness (e.g., diminished interests or a sense of having a foreshortened future).

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Increased sleep disturbances, irritability, poor concentration, startle reaction and regressive behavior.

Rates of PTSD identified in child and adult survivors of violence and disasters vary widely. For example, estimates range from 2% after a natural disaster (tornado), 28% after an episode of terrorism (mass shooting), and 29% after a plane crash.13 

The disorder may arise weeks or months after the traumatic event. PTSD may resolve without treatment, but some form of therapy by a mental health professional is often required in order for healing to occur. Fortunately, it is more common for traumatized individuals to have some of the symptoms of PTSD than to develop the full-blown disorder.
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As noted above, people differ in their vulnerability to PTSD, and the source of this difference is not known in its entirety. Researchers have identified factors that interact to influence vulnerability to developing PTSD. These factors include:

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Characteristics of the trauma exposure itself (e.g., proximity to trauma, severity, and duration)

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Characteristics of the individual (e.g., prior trauma exposures, family history/prior psychiatric illness, genderówomen are at greatest risk for many of the most common assaultive traumas), and 

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Post-trauma factors (e.g., availability of social support, emergence of avoidance/numbing, hyperarousal and re-experiencing symptoms).

Research has shown that PTSD clearly alters a number of fundamental brain mechanisms. Abnormal levels of brain chemicals that affect coping behavior, learning, and memory have been detected among people with the disorder. In addition, recent imaging studies have discovered altered metabolism and blood flow in the brain as well as structural brain changes in people with PTSD.15-19

Source: NIMH

See Also: PTSD in Holisticonline.com

Next Topic: Treatment of PTSD

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