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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

(En español, presione aquí)

 What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 What can I do to help my child?

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can happen after your child sees or is involved in a very stressful event. The event usually involves a risk of injury or death. The stressful event may be:

Most children and teens can get over PTSD with good treatment and family support. However, children have a greater risk for having PTSD later in life if they see or are involved in another stressful event.

What is the cause?

It is not known why one person will have PTSD after a trauma like a robbery, rape, battle, or severe car accident while another person may not. Things that increase the risk for PTSD after such an event include:

PTSD can start at any age.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may start right after the stressful event or may start 3 or more months later. When stressful events, such as abuse, keep happening, the symptoms may come on slowly and get worse over time.

There are 3 types of PTSD symptoms.

Your child may also:

Your child may also feel very fearful, helpless, angry, or sad. Your child may feel guilty, thinking that they somehow caused the event or could have prevented it. Your child may deny what happened. Anniversaries of the event can often cause a flood of emotions and bad memories.

Some of these symptoms are normal after a stressful event. For most children, these symptoms stop within a month after the stressful event. If your child keeps having these symptoms, it’s called PTSD.

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider or therapist will ask about your child’s symptoms, medical and family history, and any medicines your child is taking. Your provider will make sure your child does not have a medical illness or drug or alcohol problem that could cause the symptoms. Your child may be referred to a mental health professional who specializes in working with children and teens.

How is it treated?

PTSD can be successfully treated with therapy, medicine, or both.

Therapy is usually the first treatment for children. Several types of therapy may help your child:


Several types of medicines can help. Your healthcare provider will work with you to select the best one for your child. Your child may need to take more than one type of medicine.

What can I do to help my child?

healthinformatics info


PTSD symptom reduction with mindfulness-based stretching and deep breathing exercise: randomized controlled clinical trial of efficacy. Kim SH, Schneider SM, Bevans M, Kravitz L, Mermier C, Qualls C, Burge MR. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7):2984-92. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3742. Epub 2013 May 29. Accessed 1/26/2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23720785

What Causes PTSD? Cohen, Harold, Ph.D., Psych Central. Accessed 1/17/2014 from


Who is at risk for PTSD? Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 1/17/2014 from


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Causes. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Accessed 1/17/2014 from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Posttraumatic_Stress_Disorder&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=123094Effective psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review and critique

M Cloitre - CNS Spectr, 2009 - mbldownloads.com.

Early psychological interventions to treat acute traumatic stress symptoms. Roberts NP, Kitchiner NJ, Kenardy J, Bisson JI.; Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Mar 17;3:CD007944.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Basic Science and Clinical Practice; Peter Shiromani, Terrence Keane, Joseph E. LeDoux; Humana Press; 2009.

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Last Modified: 2014-02-13

Last Reviewed: 2014-01-27

Website Updated: August 2015

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Published by RelayHealth. © 2014 RelayHealth and/or one of its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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