PTSD Awareness Month: Trauma Can Impact Even the Youngest of Lives

Trauma isn’t always visible to the naked eye. It can also be something that festers deep within, impacting one’s way of life, behavior, and emotions. June offers us a chance to discuss and educate ourselves on what individuals affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have battled.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PTSD can be characterized as, “An anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster.” The association describes the disorder as one where flashbacks, nightmares, or memories – for example –bring an individual back to a specific state of intense anxiousness. As a result, the gripping fear they’d previously encountered causes severe disruptions in their everyday lives.

PTSD is also known to influence the youngest of lives – children and adolescents. It is a universal mental health challenge with no age constraints to spare. In fact, girls are two to three times more likely than boys to develop trauma, though this differing occurrence is still being researched. As a result, stressors, such as neglect, abuse, sudden loss, and other turmoil can onset the harrowing effects of extreme fear and anxiety to occur.

Despite the various causes and effects of PTSD, there are ways of healing from its repercussions. For children and adolescents, having tight social support from parents, caregivers, teachers, and peers can alleviate the probability of an individual developing PTSD soon after. Having an environment of people where they feel safe is also said to limit feelings of isolation and loneliness. Specialists within the field of psychology point to several treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), and play therapy.

Parents and caregivers can also do their part in helping children and adolescents overcome PTSD. KidsHealth from Nemours offers numerous ways that supportive adults can be proactive in their lives. They include –  but are not limited to – these key takeaways.

  • Keeping kids’ schedules and lives as similar as possible to before the event
  • Allowing a safe space to share their experience when they are ready
  • Providing reassurance
  • Connecting with other caregivers involved in their child’s/adolescent’s life

In parting, it is important to remember that everyone comes from unique walks of life. Trauma is simply not something always seen or known at first glance, making the virtue of compassion that much more significant.

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