21 January 2013

Children and Secondary PTSD

English: signs and symptoms ptsd
English: signs and symptoms ptsd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thousands of fathers and mothers go through tragic events everyday. Whether it be the struggle of war, near death situations, or other life changing occurrences it is inevitable that some will suffer with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). With a decades long war thousands of vets return home with lasting effects of hardship endured during combat. Natural disasters have torn the very fabric of some of our communities leaving families overwhelmed and searching for answers. Difficult situations put people in a state of mental confusion that results in behavior that would normally be out of character. As with any other disorder that parents struggle with, the children are affected.

It is believed that nearly 40% of all children of a parent who struggles with PTSD will develop Secondary PTSD or STS (Secondary Traumatic Stress). These children experience the some of the same symptoms as there parents. Much of the changes in behavior comes from an attempt reconnect with the parent by reenacting what they see. They develop the hyper awareness, anger, and even flashbacks that their parents have as a lasting wound of trauma. It is also common for parents with PTSD to avoid the ones that they love, leaving children with a sense that they are unloved or unwanted. These children tend to have significantly lower grades and social anxiety at school.

So what do I do if a loved one has PTSD

Don't be afraid to talk with the children about it.Use the home as a safe place to discuss how certain behaviors make them feel. If their parent is receiving treatment be as honest as possible, don't be afraid to say that mom or dad is sick.

If the child needs help GET IT! Don't be afraid to get professional help, it may save your child from lifelong injury.
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