According to a new British study, it is common for parents to overlook post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children, Community Journal reports.
Anyone can suffer from PTSD, including children. Often, people associate PTSD with veterans and later learn that anyone can have post-traumatic stress. Children are often forgotten when discussing the disorder.
However, children, just like adults, can develop PTSD when they experience trauma such as a car accident, abuse, natural disasters, or the death of a loved one.
The symptoms of PTSD in children, like the causation, are also similar to PTSD in adults.
“Symptoms can include traumatic memories and nightmares, avoiding reminders of the trauma, and feeling like the world is very unsafe,” Richard Meiser-Stedman, lead researcher of the study, wrote.
The study observed more than 100 children who had experienced trauma such as a car accident, being hit while walking, or getting knocked off their bicycle. These children, aged two to ten, all suffered serious injuries requiring visits to the hospital. Injuries ranged from bruising to fractures to unconsciousness.
Most children had a relatively quick “bounce back” rate of up to six months. Meaning, the kids who exhibited PTSD symptoms did not show PTSD six months after the accident.
A small percentage of children observed, however, showed PTSD symptoms up to three years after the accident.
Per the study, most parents did not recognize that their child was displaying PTSD symptoms, even if the child struggled for three years. This indicates that parental reports are likely not a reliable way to assess PTSD in children.
The study also determined that children with parents who suffered from PTSD were more likely to suffer from PTSD as well.
“This could be because parental stress early on is worsened by their children’s symptoms, or because the child’s responses are shaped by their parents’ initial reactions – or a bit of both, leading to an amplification of symptoms for both parties,” Meiser-Stedman said.