Child Abuse Prevention Agency
A&E Family Services
improving family life,
knowledge and understanding
After a traumatic experience, it's normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected. But if the upset doesn't fade and you feel stuck with a constant sense of danger and painful memories, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can leave you feeling powerless and vulnerable so it’s important to realize that you’re not helpless. There are things you can do to alleviate your PTSD symptoms, reduce anxiety and fear, and take back control of your life.
PTSD symptoms: Everyone is different
PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear. There are three main types of symptoms:
* Re-experiencing the traumatic event. This may include upsetting memories, flashbacks, and nightmares, as well as feelings of distress or intense physical reactions when reminded of the event (sweating, pounding heart, nausea, for example).
* Avoiding reminders of the trauma. You may try to avoid activities, places or thoughts that remind you of the trauma or be unable to remember important aspects of the event. You may feel detached from others and emotionally numb, or lose interest in activities and life in general, sensing only a limited future for yourself.
* Increased anxiety and emotional arousal. These symptoms include trouble sleeping, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, feeling jumpy and easily startled, and hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”).
What events cause PTSD in children?
Any life threatening event or event that threatens physical harm can cause PTSD. These events may include:
sexual abuse or violence (does not require threat of harm)
natural or man made disasters, such as fires, hurricanes, or floods
violent crimes such as kidnapping or school shootings
motor vehicle accidents such as automobile and plane crashes
We can Help
Our goal is to help kids, parents, teachers, and mentors come together as a closer community family without fear and with growing trust…it takes time. In the best of circumstances, parents can learn from their children who are building healthy relationships outside of the home, in school, clubs, and at play. As a community, we do this so much better.
For any major life event that takes some adjustment. Your goal is to help your child heal from the event. To do that, he needs to rationally understand what happened. Since humans make sense of their experience by telling stories, you're helping him see his story differently. Right now his story is a muddle of upset emotions like terror and pain, mixed up with pictures in his mind of whatever he saw at the time. Making him a storybook gives him a way to see the story differently and attach a "happy ending." How we see the ending is vitally important in how we remember and process events. This helps your child build a neural connection between the implicit memory where the upsetting event is recorded (which is visceral, emotional, nonverbal) and a new explicit memory that you're helping him to create (which is verbal and rational). It also gives him a chance to talk about it, which helps him to heal.