This topic guide has been written by Dr Andrea Danese, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Dr Patrick Smith, Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Credit to the National and Specialist Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Clinic, Michael Rutter Centre, Maudsley Hospital.
Most children and young people (hereby children) experience at least one traumatic event before age of 18 years. A sizeable minority of children exposed to trauma will develop symptoms including re-living of the trauma, avoidance strategies, and physiological hyper-arousal. When these symptoms persist for more than one month after trauma and are impairing, they indicate a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is important to identify and treat PTSD because many children fail to recover from the symptoms without treatment. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the treatment with the strongest evidence based in children and is often effective. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) can also be helpful. There is no clear evidence to support use of medications for treatment of PTSD in children, but medications may be very helpful to treat other psychiatric problems (e.g., depression, anxiety) that often accompany PTSD.
The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health - accessed 06.06.18