Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, in which children were exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence.
Some examples of traumatic events include being involved in a car accident, house fires, being assaulted, spending time in hospital, witnessing domestic violence, being victim to torture or war crimes, and even being involved in natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Common symptoms of PTSD in children include experiencing unwanted intrusive memories, thoughts or images of the traumatic event, nightmares, avoiding reminders of what happened such as people, places, situations, or even avoiding talking or thinking about what happened. Children also commonly seem more on edge and jumpy, can be more easily irritated or angered, and struggle to concentrate.
Younger children might repeatedly re-enact aspects of their trauma through play or draw it out, they can become more clingy, develop more general fears of perceived dangers (e.g. the dark, animals, and being alone) and can appear more oppositional – exerting more control over their environments.