Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder in Childhood and Adolescence. The Necessity of Prevention

Introduction: Children and adolescents are commonly exposed to injuries, both as family members as well as members of society and are therefore at an increased risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although referral to the economic cost is rather usual, the reference to the psychological effects of the traumatic experience of children and adolescents is often omitted. Aim: To announce epidemiological data of PTSD in children and adolescents and to report the causes of its prevalence as well as the factors that effect its severity. An additional purpose was to refer to therapeutic measures that can be taken and to highlight the importance of the role that health professionals have in the recognition of the PTSD symptoms in children as well as young adults. Method: A search was conducted in order to find published articles with studies concerning PTSD in the above population. The databases used were Pubmed, Medline and ScienceDirect, from the years 1997 to 2012. The official search language was English and the keywords were: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, children, adolescents, injury accident, violence, stress. Studies before 1997 were excluded from the search. Results: Τhe prevalence of PTSD during the first month after the accident was between 13-40% while 16,7% of the children still had PTSD symptoms 3-6 months later. The main symptoms reported were stress, agitation and depression, while the most common risk factors were the female gender, the feeling of weakness and fear during the traumatic experience, the lack of supportive environment, the child’s pathogenic psychological profile, a positive psychiatric family history, the continuous exposure of the traumatic experience or a similar one to it from the media and the intense death threat after the accident. No significant correlation was observed between PTSD and the type of accident. The pharmacological approach was significant, especially when combined with psychotherapy and the health professionals proved to have an important part in observing PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents. Conclusions: The main therapy is achieved by drug administration and is considered ideal when combined with psychotherapy. Intervention by health professionals is considered crucial so to make an early diagnosis, prevent the severity of PTSD symptoms and contribute effectively in its therapy, all in purpose of establishing a normal development of the young victims of the accident.

Category: Volume 52, N 2
Hits: 804 Hits
Created Date: 15-06-2013
Authors: Dionysia Tsoukala , Konstantinos Tsoumakas