Children and young people are sometimes involved in, or witness, events they find very stressful, frightening or distressing. Examples of these are road accidents, crimes, fires and floods.
Following incidents like this, your child or young person might experience distress that effects how they think, feel and behave. This is a natural response and is a sign that your child or young person is processing and making sense of what has occurred. It will usually resolve itself in the weeks following the traumatic event.
Occasionally, however, some young people continue to have problems for longer than expected. If this is the case, it’s possible they’re experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are a wide range of PTSD symptoms, including:
After a frightening or traumatic event, children and young people want life to return to normal and might want to avoid talking about what occurred. However, this isn’t always helpful as they need the time and opportunity to work it through and make sense of what has happened. Talking things through, with someone that they trust, can help them make sense of the event, feel less alone and more in control, and help them to adjust.
Parents are sometimes unsure how long to wait before seeking help. A good guideline is if your child or young person is still upset and experiencing the types of symptoms outlined above a month, or longer, after the event occurred, it could be helpful to visit your GP (especially if they’re getting worse or it’s interfering in daily life).
Your GP will be able to advise you about available support, and might refer your child to our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services’ (CAMHS)
You can find more additional help online by visiting: