PTSD: What Is It?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition brought on by exposure to a traumatic event. While all children can be expected to be upset after a very disturbing experience—such as witnessing or being a victim of violence, physical or sexual abuse, a natural disaster, an accident, or extreme neglect—children with the disorder don’t bounce back. They develop a pattern of behaviors that includes dreams about the event, play that reenacts the trauma, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and detachment. PTSD can develop months after the event, and may seem oddly disconnected from it. Though PTSD-like symptoms are common among children and adolescents exposed to trauma, the disorder is rare in young people.


A Look at Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD