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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Description: recurrent disturbing memories of a traumatic experience.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) forces people to relive ordeals such as murder, rape, war, accidents and natural disasters. The recollections come in the form of persistent memories and nightmares, as well as flashbacks—memories so vivid that the person feels transported back to the horrific event for a matter of seconds or hours. Some patients become so immersed in the scene that they lose touch with reality; the imaginary sights, sounds, smells and emotions seem real to them. Afterward, they usually display phobic reactions to whatever situations or activities triggered the awful memories.

Not every victim or witness to a crime, accident or other form of disaster develops PTSD. In those that do, the symptoms typically appear within three months and linger for a period of several months. Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia studied approximately one hundred children and teenagers who’d been injured in car crashes. One in four met the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, including youngsters with only minor injuries.

Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress  Disorder

Two or more of the following symptoms when reminded of the traumatic experience:

  • insomnia
  • irritability or angry outbursts
  • poor concentration
  • memory impairment
  • startles easily
  • feeling of detachment, numbness
  • always seems to be watching out for danger
Last Updated
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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