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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Maria, Kirsten, and Melissa. What is PTSD?. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience.

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post traumatic stress disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Maria, Kirsten, and Melissa

what is ptsd
What is PTSD?
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience.
  • There are three factors that have been shown to increase the likelihood that children will develop PTSD. These factors include the severity of the traumatic event, the parental reaction to the traumatic event, and the physical proximity to the traumatic event.
what causes ptsd
What Causes PTSD?
  • experiencing or witnessing a severe accident or physical injury
  • receiving a life-threatening medical diagnosis
  • being the victim of kidnapping or torture
  • exposure to combat or to a natural disaster, other disaster (for example, plane crash) or terrorist attack
  • being the victim of rape, mugging, robbery or assault
  • enduring physical, sexual, emotional or other forms of abuse
  • involvement in civil conflict.
early childhood
Early Childhood
  • Very young children may present only a few PTSD symptoms, because many of the common symptoms are verbal. They may report more generalized fears such as stranger or separation anxiety, avoidance of situations that may or may not be related to the trauma, sleep disturbances, and a preoccupation with words or symbols that may or may not be related to the trauma. These children may also display posttraumatic play in which they repeat themes of the trauma. In addition, children may lose an acquired developmental skill (such as toilet training) as a result of experiencing a traumatic event.
elementary age
Elementary Age
  • They sometimes experience "time skew" and "omen formation," which are not typically seen in adults. Time skew refers to a child mis-sequencing trauma related events when recalling the memory. Omen formation is a belief that there were warning signs that predicted the trauma. As a result, children often believe that if they are alert enough, they will recognize warning signs and avoid future traumas. School-aged children also reportedly exhibit posttraumatic play or reenactment

of the trauma in play, drawings, or verbalizations.

Posttraumatic play is different from reenactment

in that posttraumatic play is a literal representation

of the trauma, involves compulsively repeating some

aspect of the trauma, and does not tend to relieve

anxiety. An example of posttraumatic play is an

increase in shooting games after exposure

to a school shooting.

secondary age
Secondary Age
  • PTSD in adolescents may begin to

more closely resemble PTSD in adults.

However, there are a few features that

have been shown to differ. As discussed

above, children may engage in traumatic play following a trauma. Adolescents are more likely to engage in traumatic reenactment, in which they incorporate aspects of the trauma into their daily lives. In addition, adolescents are more likely than younger children or adults to exhibit impulsive and aggressive behaviors.

how to help
How to Help
  • Prevention is key!
    • While there is no predictability in who will develop PTSD, it is possible to take steps to prepare children ahead of time and by doing so, lessen the PTSD potential. Children need to be taught lessons about trauma. Learning about people who have experienced trauma and gone on to live healthy lives gives children role models and hope for their own future.
    • Gently discouraging reliance on avoidance; letting the child know it is all right to discuss the incident
    • Talking understandingly with the child about their feelings;
    • Understanding that children react differently according to age - young children tend to cling, adolescents withdraw
    • Encouraging a return to normal activities
    • Helping restore the child's sense of control

of his or her life

    • Seeking professional help.
post trauma
Post Trauma
  • Following a trauma, debriefing is critical. What is most important is the opportunity to communicate.
  • A child's initial debriefing should be

child-centered and nonjudgmental.

The adult should recognize that each

child did his or her best, no matter

what the outcome, and refrain from

offering advice.

  • Help a child reestablish control, by reviewing survival skills and drills and planning for "next time" reestablishes strength. Allowing a child to make choices reestablishes their governance over their own lives.
seeking professional help
Seeking Professional Help
  • Professional assistance is most important since PTSD can have a lifelong impact on a child. Symptoms can lie dormant for decades and resurface many years later during exposure to a similar circumstance. It is only by recognition and treatment of PTSD that trauma victims can hope to move past the impact of the trauma and lead healthy lives. Thus, referral to trained mental health professionals is critical. The school psychologist is a vital resource, and guidance counselors can be an important link in the mental health resource chain.
  • Although professional assistance is ultimately essential in cases of PTSD, classroom teachers must deal with the immediate daily impact. Becoming an informed teacher is the first step in helping traumatized children avoid the life long consequences of PTSD.
parental involvement
Parental Involvement
  • Watch for warning signs
    • sleep problems, irritability, avoidance, changes in school performance, and problems with peers.
  • Gather information on PTSD and pay attention to how your child is functioning.
  • Consider having your child evaluated by a mental-health professional who has experience treating PTSD
  • Consider whether you might also benefit from talking to someone individually. The most important thing you can do now is to support your child.
christian perspective
Christian Perspective
  • Psalm 23:4 “Even when I walk      through the darkest valley,   I will not be afraid,      for you are close beside me. ”
  • Isaiah 57:18b-19 “I will comfort those who mourn,bringing words of praise to their lips.   May they have abundant peace, both near and far,”      says the Lord, who heals them.”
  • Psalm 10:17-18 “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.”