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PTSD in children: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

PTSD in children: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Does your child get upset after recalling any memory? If yes then there is a greater possibility that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common mental illness. This disorder can affect any person irrespective of age, gender, or socio-economic status. Each person’s ability to respond to PTSD is different. Adults are more likely to recover easily while children face some major issues with PTSD. A large number of children have experienced different traumatic events in their lives.

Some suffer from sexual abuse while some experience domestic violence. Children experience different kinds of traumas with varied intensity. However, some children recover easily while some retain the after-effects of their childhood traumas. In some cases, the onset of PTSD symptoms occurs after six months. While on the other hand, some experience the symptoms after a longer duration.

Children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are unable to pay attention to important life details. Moreover, they fail to achieve excellence in academic and personal life. If your child is showing persistent fear or sadness and unable to spend a normal life then he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD in children is considered one of the major factors that can halt their personal growth and development. At Inland Empire Behavioral Group, you can find the finest treatment strategies to treat PTSD in children. Furthermore, you can also benefit from Inland telehealth services if you are unable to physically visit any mental health clinic. Simply by sitting at home, you can achieve your child’s mental wellness and treat the symptoms of PTSD in children.

What is trauma?

Any situation or object that leaves the person in a continuous state of fear or sadness is referred to as trauma. In most cases, persons who are dealing with the traumatic symptoms are one of those who have eye-witnessed the situation. Although the situation ended, they remained stressed for a longer period. Moreover, some traumas cause the onset of disorder symptoms while in some cases, some persons stay normal. But in major cases, people get the symptoms of the disorder and feel the effects of trauma in their lives. However, effectively managing the symptoms of the condition can assist in the recovery of traumatic symptoms.

What are the causes of PTSD in children?

Different kinds of traumas have their impact on the child’s life. However, some major factors that can adversely affect life and cause PTSD in children include:

  • Childhood injury
  • Personal loss
  • Death or loss of a loved one
  • Social violence
  • Severe road accident
  • Natural disasters
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Serious illness
  • Previous medical history
  • Victim of any unpleasant situation
  • Animal bites
  • Social neglection

PTSD symptoms in children

Children suffering from PTSD exhibit different symptoms. However, some common signs of PTSD in children are as follows:

  • Prolonged fear or anxiousness
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Aggression
  • Hostile behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty in sleep
  • Recurrent nightmares
  • Excessive negative emotions
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Feeling of numbness
  • Restless
  • Eating disorder symptoms
  • Fidgeting behavior
  • Trouble in concentration
  •  Lack of organizational abilities
  •  Flashbacks to traumatic situations
  • Reduced touch with reality
  • Repeated sensations of previous traumas
  • Headache
  • Irritable behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Phobic symptoms
  • Self-harming thoughts
  • Body ache
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Chest pain

PTSD symptoms in teens

Just like children, teens also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. According to some recent studies, it is suggested that approximately teenagers aged 12 to 17 years experience the major symptoms of PTSD in children. They are among those who have experienced different traumatic situations in their childhood. Most commonly they have tolerated the symptoms of sexual abuse or violence. Teens suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder experience different symptoms. They have reduced courage and self-esteem. They spend major time thinking about the traumas instead of participating in productive life activities.

Whenever their memories affect them, they make efforts to avoid those things that remind them of their childhood traumatic situations. Moreover, they also suffer from anxiety or depression. They are unable to pay attention in their class and therefore fail to get good marks. During their professional life, they are unable to attend the meetings on time. They fail to meet the deadlines and also prefer to stay alone instead of engaging with their professional contacts or colleagues. Similarly, they are also unable to develop healthy relationships with their loved ones. Therefore, they cannot improve their quality of life.

Who is more likely to suffer from PTSD?

Various recent studies suggested that approximately 5% of children usually experience any traumatic situation in their early childhood stages. Among them, the number of girls suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms is greater as compared to the boys.

What does PTSD look like in a child?

Different studies have reported that the symptoms of PTSD in children exhibit some differences as compared to adults. However, symptoms of PTSD in children require avoidance as well as re-experiencing the symptoms just like the adults.

Children of different ages respond differently to this disorder. Some school-going children do not experience sleep problems. Moreover, there are also reduced chances of flashbacks of the traumatic events. However, some symptoms only appear in them, not in adults which include omen formation as well as the time skew.

Both are common conditions that occur in school-going children. Time skew is the condition in which children recall memories in a very different manner. During recalling they are unable to correctly sequence the trauma-related events. Likewise, omen formation is a common belief that mostly occurs in the brain of children. They think that traumatic situations involve some warning signs. With the effective recognition of warning signs, they can prevent future traumatic situations.

Furthermore, PTSD in children and adolescents shows more closer resemblance to PTSD in adults. However, there are also some major differences. Adolescent stages are more closely linked to the engagement in the traumatic reenactment. While children experience traumatic play after the traumatic situation. Similarly, adults also exhibit more hyperactive and impulsive behaviors than children.

How to diagnose PTSD symptoms in children?

PTSD can affect both adults and children. In addition, children are more prone to suffer from PTSD. However, not all children do not have to develop PTSD symptoms after experiencing traumatic life events. PTSD in children should be considered as a major concern if the symptoms occur from continuous one month and affect their lives. Therefore, parents and teachers should have complete insight regarding the symptoms of PTSD in children. After an effective evaluation of the symptoms, they should immediately take a major step toward the treatment of this disorder’s symptoms. Moreover, different criteria are used to diagnose the symptoms of PTSD in children such as:

  • Repeated avoidance of external stimuli which has a close association with traumas
  • Obvious and strong negative alterations in the behavior
  • Increased hyperactivity after getting exposed to the traumatic situation
  • Clinical impairment

Furthermore, different psychological tests are also conducted by mental health experts. Some questions are asked about the PTSD symptoms in kids. Moreover, family history is also determined. Then based on the answers of patients, mental health experts can better identify the occurrence of PTSD in children.

How does PTSD affect the child’s development?

Both trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder can affect the child’s development. Different biological effects occur after the incident of any unpleasant situation. PTSD in children mostly affects the development of the brain. As neural development occurs more rapidly in early childhood stages, therefore PTSD in children can alter their normal phase of development and growth. If the stress is from a prolonged period then it can lead to various other issues in the body. PTSD symptoms in kids also involve the experience of hormonal imbalance as well as altered levels of emotion regulation circuits. If the neural development is affected, then it can also lead to other different mental and physical impairments. Therefore, the effective intervention of therapy is sufficient to treat PTSD in children and adolescents.

Can babies have PTSD?

Some researchers have also reported that post-traumatic stress disorder can also develop in infants of the age of 9 months or older. However, the response of infants to traumatic situations or fear can be conditional. The symptoms of PTSD manifest in babies and toddlers in different ways as compared to adolescents and adults. Babies and infants are even unable to explain their nightmares. Therefore, parents face difficulty in recognizing the traumatic symptoms. But still, their behavior shows some major clues that can assist the parents in identifying the situation.

Parents should have close interaction with their babies to immediately notice the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Babies suffering from PTSD often exhibit hypervigilant behavior. Mostly parents ignore this behavior and consider this as their personality trait. Therefore, if you want to protect your baby from PTSD then take notice as there is a greater possibility that your child is suffering from PTSD.

Moreover, some babies also exhibit more clingy behavior toward their parents or caregivers. This situation mostly occurs between the ages of 6 to 12 months.

Likewise, some infants get frightened easily when they get alone in a room. They also feel difficulty in sleep due to their fear of isolation.

Although babies are unable to speak and share, they must show a response to the distressing situation. Parents should observe the response toward any sound and video. Moreover, their physical sensations are also determined. However, if their response is the same after getting exposed to the situation, then it might be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.

As a parent, you should also monitor your child’s play. If your child is exhibiting unusual or strange behavior then there is a greater probability of PTSD. If a toddler is repetitively playing a game, then it indicates the occurrence of symptoms of PTSD in children.

How to help a child with PTSD?

If you think that your child is the victim of any traumatic event and dealing with the symptoms of the disorder then immediately take a step to treat the disorder. Consult with a highly professional and skilled mental health expert to get rid of PTSD symptoms. Fortunately, PTSD in children is treatable, so what you need to do is simply employ the best therapy to cope with the situation. Different types of treatments are used to treat PTSD in children. However, some major and widely used treatments include psychotherapy and medication management. Moreover, in most of the cases, a combination of therapy and medications is also considered effective. Simply consult with the professional to determine which treatment plan will cater to your mental health requirements.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the common types of psychotherapy that is used in the treatment of this disorder. The main goal of this therapy is to assist the person who has to deal with PTSD symptoms. Mental health professionals can better identify the main causes of unusual or disturbing thought patterns, emotions, and associated behavior. In initial therapy sessions, experts communicate with the affected individuals to find out the main causes and also provide education related to PTSD symptoms.

As a parent, you can also get completely familiar with PTSD in children’s symptoms, causes, and prevention strategies. Then with the progressive therapy sessions, affected individuals feel the recovery from the symptoms. Initially, persons with PTSD can select the group setting based on their ease. The number of therapy sessions can last from 6 to 12 weeks or longer. PTSD in children affects the children differently so the experts also devise the strategy of talk therapy differently. Some psychotherapy sessions focus on the symptoms of PTSD in children. While some strive to remove the social, economic, and financial stress factors that can lead to the development of disease symptoms.

Exposure therapy

As the name indicates, this therapy involves the exposure of an individual to a traumatic situation. Children are exposed to those events that trigger their emotions and fear. However, this therapy makes sure that the exposure occurs in very secure and optimal conditions. Different mental health therapists treat children in different ways. Some children are asked to write about their previous life traumas. While some develop a comfortable environment for the children so they can share their inner feelings. In initial therapy sessions, children feel fear while after repeated exposure to the same situation, they become adapted to the situation and then immediately ignore the situation. PTSD in children can be managed with this therapy.

Interpersonal therapy

PTSD in children also affects their confidence. Affected children feel hesitation in indulging in any social activity. Instead of interacting with others, they feel pleasure in isolation. Moreover, reduced social engagement can affect the quality of their life. However interpersonal therapy targets interpersonal relationships. Therapists guide the patients on how to improve their social skills and the resulting behavior.

Cognitive restructuring

PTSD in children affects cognitive abilities. They develop an inaccurate sense of the traumatic events. In most of the cases, children develop senseless memories of the event although that occurred in a very different manner. Moreover, they also feel the undesired guilt and shame of the situation is something that is not their fault. However, cognitive restructuring works efficiently by assisting individuals to think the PTSD realistically.

Play therapy

PTSD in children of initial stages comprises numerous complexities. As children are unable to share their emotions and thoughts. They are unable to speak properly and therefore face major issues. Therefore, mental health therapists utilize play therapy. In this therapy, they play different games to interact with the child. Different games that are helpful in this therapy involve drawings and collecting different things from the surroundings. In this way, children get the time to process their traumatic memories and decide the positive results.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

This is also a common type of cognitive therapy that involves directed eye movements. Children are asked to move their eyes in a specific way while processing the memories at the same time. This therapy is highly effective in treating PTSD in children and adults as it provides healing from distressing life events or experiences.


Different medicines are recommended when therapies alone are not providing the desired results. Medication management is highly effective in treating PTSD in children. Some commission medications that are widely used to treat the symptoms of PTSD in children include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Antidepressants
  •  Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Antipsychotics

Parental strategies to deal with PTSD in children

If you are having some difficulty in treating the symptoms of PTSD in children, then talk to a child mental health expert. They have sufficient knowledge of how to manage PTSD in children or adolescents. At Inland Empire Behavioral Group, you can find top-notch mental therapy that assists you in getting the best treatment for PTSD in children. You just have to provide the initial details and then your therapist will do wonders for your child’s health. After experiencing traumatic situations, PTSD in children makes them more sensitive as compared to normal children. Moreover, they also need more support and care from their parents. They always to spend time in a comfortable environment, which can only be achieved in the presence of their family members.

Spend time with the child

Try to have some free time and sit with your children. Play games with them. Moreover, do these things that provide a soothing or relaxing effect. Find out those sources that act as major sources of entertainment for them. Walk together, read together, and do a lot more things. Think about engaging them in productive activities and also provide feedback. As a parent, if you want your child to enjoy life with mental health then do all the above-mentioned things even for a few minutes. You will surely observe the progress in your child’s mental health. With time, your child will recover from all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. So you can easily treat the condition of PTSD in children.

Show your love

Due to increased sensitivity, children face trouble in each aspect of life. Try to understand their feelings, emotions, and thoughts instead of scolding them for their behavior. Use the hugs and always look at them with a smiling face. Moreover, also appraise them with your kind words. Show them that you love them from the core of their hearts. When you think that your child is showing aggressive or hostile behavior, immediately use soothing words to calm them. Your words matter a lot. When you find that they are doing good then praise them and motivate too. Let your child that you not only love them but are also proud of them. If your child is showing bad behavior, you have to show patience. Guide them to what is good or bad and guide them to try different ways to achieve their goals.

Meeting with school teachers

Furthermore, make a schedule to meet their school community. As a parent, you should have a specific day on which you meet their school teachers and friends. After parents, teachers are one of those who can notice any weird behavior of children. Ask their teachers to pay attention and take immediate measures if they find anything strange during their academic activities. Likewise, school fellows or friends can also detect the undesired changes in the behavior of children who are suffering from this disorder.

Last thoughts

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a complex mental illness that affects a person’s behavior. The onset of PTSD symptoms occurs after the occurrence of any frightening traumatic situation. Moreover, PTSD can affect both men and women of all ages. However, children are mostly affected by this disorder. Compared to adults, they lack the capabilities to deal with the symptoms of this disorder. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and loss of any loved one can develop PTSD in children.

But you do not need to take stress as Inland Empire Behavioral Group is the finest platform that can assist you in dealing with PTSD in children. Our experts are proficient in employing different remarkable strategies to deal with the symptoms of PTSD in children. So what are you looking for? Furthermore, our telehealth services are also ideal for treating PTSD symptoms. You do not need to travel to any mental health institute. Inland Empire Behavioral Group can cater to your mental health requirements. Prepare your mind to eradicate PTSD symptoms and cherish life without any mental disturbances.

PTSD in children is a common mental illness that develops after experiencing any traumatic event. Inland Empire Behavioral Group assists you in the efficient treatment of this disorder.

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Dr. Reri Uku


Dr. Reri Uku is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC). Her expertise lies in her ability to provide quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health
services including medication management to adolescents and adults. Her practice is guided by evidence-based treatment approaches that are tailored to meet individual needs and preferences. Her role is multidimensional, including educator, mental health advocate, and therapist.

As a PMHNP, she has a passion for bringing healing to patients who have traumatic and stressful life experiences.

As an adjunct faculty at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), she values interdisciplinary education and inter-professional collaboration for a student-centered learning approach to provide safe and effective patient care.

She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Azusa Pacific University in 2018 and her Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner from National University in 2019. She graduated from California State University, San Bernardino master’s program with majors in Nurse Education and Advanced Community/Public Health in 2014. She became a registered nurse in 2010 and her background includes experiences in Medical Surgical Nursing, Neurology, Oncology and Psychiatry.

Her interests includes trauma focused care and integration of behavioral health medicine, with a goal to facilitate better outcomes for patients’ with mental health disabilities

Adaobi M Adimorah


Adaobi Adimorah is a highly skilled and professional psychiatrist. Adaobi is significantly contributing to commendable health care services at the  Inland Empire Behavioral Group in Riverside, California. Furthermore, her services at the Brainiac Medical Corporation in Colton, California are also breathtaking. She started her academic career with her Associate degree in Nursing at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Newi. Then Adaobi grabbed more excellence with her graduation in Nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. Later on, Adaobi pursued his academic career and got a Doctorate in Nursing from the Psychiatric Mental Health Specialization Center.

Adaobi has retained expertise in diagnosing and treating anxiety, depression, AHD, and numerous other mental disorders. She has a strong belief that the effective implementation of cognitive behavior and enormous mindfulness techniques can foster mental well-being.

Mohammad I Hussain


Mohammad I Hussain is an experienced mental health expert. He has set the records by offering commendable mental health services. Mohammad I Hussain is renowned for his effective strategies against several mental health disorders. Mohammad I Hussain perfectly entered into the medical era by completing the graduation from Walden University. He also obtained an Associate Degree in Nursing from Pasadena City College. His diverse work experience at different medical institutes is the actual representation of his incredible psychiatric skills. Mohammad I Hussain is perfectly familiar with all the effective strategies against varied mental illnesses including ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD bipolar disorder, etc.

Dr. Carla. MD


Dr. Carla Chambers Hammond, M.D. is a competent psychiatrist.

Dr. Carla is presently serving at the Inland Empire Behavioural Group. She retains the specialization in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Dr.Carla has been extremely proficient from a young age. She completed her schooling at the UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. She acquired excellence in the mental health field by getting a medical degree from New York Medical College. Her psychiatric internship in New York was the main turning point in her medical career. Dr. Carla also obtained various diplomas in the medical profession. As ABAM Diplomat in Addiction Medicine, she turned heads with her exceptional performance. Her therapeutic approach is phenomenal.

Wesley Wong


Welsey Wong is a renowned marriage and family therapist. Wesley is currently providing his exceptional services at the Inland Empire Behavioral Group in Riverside, California. Wesley acquired excellence in both academic and professional fields. After completing his graduation in psychology, he was enrolled for a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at the California School of Professional Psychology in California. Wesley gained immense fame in employing his strategies of Adlerian theory and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Welsey is also serving as the top-notch therapist at the Brainiac Medical Corporation in Colton, California.

Welsey offers incredible services to treat varied mental health disorders. Among them, Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia are his promising domains. If you are striving for the finest solutions regarding your personal life, you can consult him. What you need to do is simply schedule a call and book your appointment. Wesley’s health care services are significant to direct you towards reliable and permanent mental health resilience. With just a few sessions, you will cherish sound health.

Khadija Hamisi


Dr. Khadija Hamisi is an extremely passionate and experienced mental health expert.

Dr. Hamisi provides astonishing psychiatric services at Inland Empire Behavioral Group in Riverside, California.
She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from California State University San Bernardino. Then to pursue her career, Dr. Khadija obtained a Master’s in nursing and adult psychiatric Mental Health. Brandman University transformed Khadija into an inspiring psychiatrist.

She not only got a doctorate there but also acquired numerous mesmerizing healthcare expertise. Dr Khadija has the finest skills in employing the therapy and medication therapies for patients.