Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children can be difficult to understand. Are you a parent with a child who you think is showing signs of trauma? If so, you are not alone. This is a common problem for parents and other caretakers of children with PTSD.
- Getting to the Heart of Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress in Children
- What Most Parents Don't Understand about Kids and PTSD (but Should)
- Misconception 1: PTSD Only Affects Military Veterans
- Misconception 2: Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Has PTSD
- Misconception 3: PTSD Isn't Treatable (Or PTSD Treatments Don't Work)
- Misconception 4: PTSD is Mostly About Flashbacks
- Misconception 5: All People with PTSD are Violent
- Misconception 6: PTSD Shows Up Right After the Traumatic Event
- Misconception 7: People with PTSD Cannot Function
- What is PTSD?
Getting to the Heart of Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress in Children
Those with PTSD are often misunderstood and not taken seriously. People with PTSD are sometimes seen as weak or unhinged, but the truth is that they have an incredible ability to survive in conditions of unimaginable trauma.
Adults and children with PTSD are actually very strong because they’ve found ways to cope with their symptoms in order to live normal lives.
People suffering from PTSD have no control over their symptoms, triggers, or spirals.
After working with foster children, adopted children, and many children over the years who have experienced abuse and trauma, here are insights into the common misconceptions about PTSD. Let’s debunk them to help those who are suffering to feel heard. You can help your child so they by helping the adults in their life to understand the struggle, so they can offer better support.
With an estimated 7.7% of the population suffering from PTSD it is important to become aware of some false beliefs about the disorder in order to provide them the support they need.
What Most Parents Don’t Understand about Kids and PTSD (but Should)
Read on to find out about the most common misunderstandings about PTSD in children and how to parent effectively.
Misconception 1: PTSD Only Affects Military Veterans
The most common misconception about PTSD is that it can only affect veterans of the military, but PTSD can affect anyone. Below is a list of symptoms of post-traumatic trauma. Speak to a trauma psychologist to determine whether or not what your child is experiencing these symptoms:
- Separation anxiety, or fearing separation from parents
- Having intrusive memories or nightmares
- Denying the event happened
- Unusual negative thinking
- Changes in emotional behavior such as excessive crying, depression or irritability.
- Eating poorly or loss of appetite
It’s never too late to get help for PTSD. If someone has been through a life-altering experience that might have caused them to relive their trauma again and again, it can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Misconception 2: Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Has PTSD
Even if you have never experienced trauma, you may experience PTSD as a result of events that happen in your life. These events can be triggered by sounds, smells, or actions that are similar to that event.
Trauma that causes injuries is not a rare occurrence. Most people are resilient and will bounce back from an event like this. However, for some of the population, one traumatic event can cause life-threatening Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and lasting symptoms in their lives as well as their friends and family. Although not everybody will experience trauma from a traumatic event, all users may experience some level of stress or anxiety after the event.
People who experience trauma, but don’t develop PTSD, may experience short-term stress that includes symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety. Around 8% of the population is diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lives.
The risk of developing PTSD increases with the severity, duration, and proximity to the trauma, as well as the individual’s reaction to it.
Misconception 3: PTSD Isn’t Treatable (Or PTSD Treatments Don’t Work)
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment can help you regain a sense of control over your life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, but can also include medication.”
By combining medication and psychotherapy symptoms of PTSD can be helped in the following ways:
- Learning ways to cope when symptoms arise.
- Working with other issues often related to traumatic experiences such as depression, anxiety, or the misuse of drugs and alcohol.
- Helping to attain skills such as meditation, reframing thoughts, reciting affirmations, or learning how to be focus on bodily sensations in order to take the focus away from what is going on in the mind.
- Generally learning to think more positively when it comes to self, others, and the world.
Can a Service Animal be a Treatment for PTSD?
Service animals are an amazing treatment option for your child with PTSD. Dogs make great pets and having a dog as a pet can benefit anyone who likes dogs, including children with PTSD. Dog
- Help bring out feelings of love.
- Are good companions.
- Are fun and can help reduce stress.
- Are a good reason to get out of the house, spend time outdoors, and meet new people.
- Are grounded and help us to be present or “in the moment.”
Misconception 4: PTSD is Mostly About Flashbacks
PTSD is difficult to diagnose and can affect individuals differently. Flashbacks can include seeing, feeling, or hearing a previous event take place and/or having graphic nightmares.
If you’re struggling with PTSD, traditional therapeutic treatments likely won’t work. But there’s now a novel approach that just might. It may or may not be possible to have flashbacks in the long term.
PTSD is more than just what the general public thinks, yet it’s still a severely misunderstood mental health problem.
Misconception 5: All People with PTSD are Violent
People diagnosed with PTSD often have serious emotional problems that can worsen over time if they’re not properly dealt with. The way people deal with PTSD differs across the board, but some methods are better than others in terms of effectiveness.
Psychosis is not a symptom associated with PTSD. Furthermore, a person that is diagnosed would be more likely to withdraw and go into their own world than lash out at others. They are also less likely to experience any sort of psychotic episodes should they come across trauma.
Misconception 6: PTSD Shows Up Right After the Traumatic Event
It is tricky to predict when a person will get PTSD. It usually takes a couple of weeks for symptoms to show up, but some people don’t develop them for weeks, months or even years.
For this reason, many people who develop PTSD following an extremely traumatic event don’t often get the help they need. Shortly after a traumatic event, most people will experience reactions from stress, but PTSD only gets diagnosed if those symptoms last for more than a month.
Misconception 7: People with PTSD Cannot Function
People who have been diagnosed with PTSD can lead a regular life as long as they are in therapy and on medication, and have a strong support system. People with PTSD can work, be in healthy relationships and do other things just like other people.
Some people with PTSD are unable to work due to the complications that the symptoms cause, but that isn’t the way the illness affects everyone. PTSD may interfere with their ability to do certain tasks, but there are many jobs suitable for people who are diagnosed.
What is PTSD?
PTSD can affect anyone at any time and there are many misconceptions about it. Some people incorrectly assume that having PTSD means you have to experience a terrifying ordeal, when actually anyone can develop PTSD from anything that disrupts the normal pattern of daily physical or psychological stress.
If your child has been experiencing symptoms for more than a month, please seek treatment as soon as possible so that other co-occurring conditions, like depression or substance abuse, do not develop.
Parents need to realize that there is hope for their child with PTSD. Help is available. Please reply in the comments below if you are a parent with a child that has PTSD and let us know if we can be of any further help.