By Dr. Smitha Anandhan, Psychology
Children no longer have sheltered existence from personal and public disasters. Accidents, physical and sexual abuse, weak inter-personal relationships in the family leave deep scars on a child’s psyche. Trauma is increasingly personal nowadays, and so psychological problems arise frequently.
Some notable facts about post-traumatic stress disorder in children are:
1. About 39% children between 3-8 years of age, 33% of those between 9-12 years of age and 27% of those between 13-19 years of age develop PTSD in response to trauma. This shows that experiencing trauma at a younger age results in greater chances of developing PTSD.
2. Constantly watching violent images on TV or other forms of visual media can result in PTSD too. The initial trauma may be a reason for an affinity for mindless cruelty later in life.
Some symptoms of PTSD according to the age groups:
1. 1-7 years of age
i. The child’s responses are not normal
ii. The child suffers from persistent nightmares
iii. The child has general sense of fear which has no specific reason
2. 8-11 years of age
i. Aggressive behaviour is seen in the child
ii. The child suffers from acute feelings of guilt
iii. The child has frequent angry outbursts
3. 12-19 years of age
i. The child has a furious desire for revenge for petty things
ii. The child is withdrawn and self-conscious
iii. Sometimes, they may display habits of creating aggressive scenarios in their mind, for reasons they do not understand themselves.
Treatment for PTSD for children
Treatment will include psychological therapy sessions in the presence of parental figures. Communicative exercises may be practised with the child and the family members. The psychologist may prescribe antidepressant medications if required.