Like adults, children may also experience PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, after a serious trauma or injury. Children’s emotional responses to injury are different than the emotional responses of adults, and parents and professionals alike need to understand this and be able to recognize the symptoms of PTSD, so they can help children recover from the trauma of a serious injury.
What Is PTSD?
According to the American College of Surgeons, PTSD is an emotional and behavioral disorder that comes from trauma, including witnessing or experiencing a serious injury or serious violence. To be labeled as PTSD, the behaviors must last for more than 30 days after the injury or event.
A growing body of evidence is pointing to the fact that children are highly likely to suffer PTSD after a serious injury, even if the injury was not due to abuse or violent acts.
Parents and pediatricians must recognize these symptoms so that children can get the right psychological treatment after trauma or injury, or the PTSD symptoms can last well into adulthood. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include avoiding people, places or sensations that are associated with the event, changes in the mood or thought patterns, depression, hyperarousal, and reactivity to stressful events. A child with PTSD may start behaving badly, react strongly to mild stimuli or suffer from unusual emotional mood swings.
How to Help a Child with PTSD After an Injury
Parents who suspect their children are suffering from PTSD after a serious injury need to get medical and psychological help quickly. The sooner children start therapy, the better their chances of recovery. Pediatricians and hospitals need to implement screening protocols for injured children to ensure their PTSD symptoms are spotted early, and parents need to be prepared for emotional and behavioral changes after an injury so they can better support their children.
Treatment for PTSD often involves significant amounts of therapy to help children deal with the effects of their trauma, so they can learn coping mechanisms to help them through the years ahead. If a child is dealing with PTSD, a personal injury lawyer can assist in ensuring compensation is available to pay for therapies.