Learning More About Children and PTSD

Symptoms in Adolescents
PTSD in adolescents may begin to more closely resemble the condition in adults. However, a few features have been shown to differ. As discussed previously, 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 to exhibit impulsive, aggressive behaviors.

Other Effects of Trauma and PTSD in Children

Besides PTSD, children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events often exhibit other types of problems. Perhaps the best information available on the effects of trauma on children comes from a review of the literature on the effects of child sexual abuse. In this review, it was shown that sexually abused children often have problems with:
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger and hostility
  • Aggression
  • Sexually inappropriate behavior
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Feelings of isolation and stigma
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Difficulty in trusting others
  • Substance abuse.
These problems are often seen in children and adolescents who have experienced other types of traumas as well. Children who have experienced traumas also often have relationship problems with peers and family members, problems with acting out, and problems with school performance.
Along with associated symptoms, a number of psychiatric disorders are commonly found in children and adolescents who have been traumatized. One commonly co-occurring disorder is major depression. Other disorders include:
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