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Quick Facts on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as treatments

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety condition brought on by exposure to a disturbing event. Children who suffer from PTSD may exhibit detachment, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. They also often dream about the traumatic event, or reenact it during playtime. Though PTSD-like symptoms are common among children and adolescents exposed to trauma, the disorder is rare in young people.


Treatment for PTSD

The treatment for PTSD often requires both behavioral therapy and medication.

Behavioral: Psychotherapy that helps children speak, draw, play, or write about their trauma has been successful in easing symptoms. In other cases, your child’s clinician might recommend cognitive behavior therapy to teach your child to cope with his or her fear instead of addressing the trauma directly. Therapy sessions for children almost always involve a parent, a family member, or another caregiver.

Medication: Medication may be prescribed to help alleviate fear and anxiety, starting with antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. If your child has persistent bad dreams, a drug used to treat hypertension called Prazosin has proven effective in curbing them.


This article was last reviewed or updated on October 30, 2023.