Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that affects people who have survived a terrifying physical or emotional event. Even after they are “safe” and physically removed from the event, people with PTSD are plagued by flashbacks, memories or frightening thoughts that can last for weeks, months and sometimes years. 

    While you have probably heard about PTSD in the context of war veterans, the disorder can impact anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience—including children. In fact, more than 3 million children in the U.S. alone are believed to have PTSD.

    Other facts about PTSD you might not have known:

    • Girls are more likely to develop it than boys.
    • The more violent the experience, the more likely a survivor will have PTSD.
    • A child has a greater chance of developing PTSD if the trauma involved her family or others very close to her.
    • A solid support network is essential in recovering from PTSD.

    Children’s Hospital Boston is constantly researching new ways help identify, prevent and treat PTSD in kids and adolescents. Treatment approaches can include:

    • psychotherapy, or “talk therapy”
    • family support
    • in some cases, medication that is prescribed in conjunction with therapy

    Living through a tragedy is incredibly difficult—and having to live with PTSD can be overwhelming for a child who is trying to move on. Fortunately, there is hope: The expert psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals at Children’s Hospital Boston are here to support your child and family at every step of the way.

    How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches post-traumatic stress disorder

    Children’s Hospital Boston has long been at the forefront of providing experienced, compassionate care to children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health disorders. Our Department of Psychiatry team members are leaders in researching, diagnosing and treating PTSD, as well as:

    Children’s approach to mental health care is evidence-based—which means that our treatments have been tested and proven effective through scientific studies, both here at our hospital and by other institutions.

    Here at Children’s, our team is always aware that your child is, first and foremost, a child—and not merely a recipient of care. You are an essential member of the treatment team, and our clinicians will help you and your child learn practical coping strategies to deal with the emotional, mental and behavioral aftermath of a traumatic experience.  

    Post-traumatic stress disorder: Reviewed by David R. DeMaso, MD
    © Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2011

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