Thursday, July 19, 2012

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Preschoolers: A New Diagnosis Coming Soon

by John and Diane.

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a term we all are familiar with, usually used when referring to war veterans or those who have survived combat zone trauma.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is THE book that counselors, psychiatrists and doctors use for making diagnosis and learning about mental disease. It is a reference book that lists all the symptoms and factors needed (or excluded) when giving a patient or client a clinical diagnosis.  The 5th edition of this book is in production now and will be released in May of 2013.  In it you will find what might be a surprising, (or not) new diagnosis that may help or further clarify something foster and adoptive parents work with many times with our kids.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children and Adolescents.

 I know this is something most of us have been aware of for many years, but it is finally being taken out of the closet and put into focus by the medical powers-that-be. I know that it is a term I have often heard being used "unofficially," and rightfully so, about some children who have experienced severe trauma in their early lives.  Officially it has been referred to simply as Trauma.

The risk factors for PTSD in kids is either direct trauma or exposure to a parent's reaction to trauma.  According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD in elementary school- aged kids "may not experience visual flashbacks or amnesia for aspects of the trauma. However, they do experience "time skew" and "omen formation," which are not typically seen in adults. Time skew refers to a child mis-sequencing trauma-related events when recalling the memory. Omen formation is a belief that there were warning signs that predicted the trauma. As a result, children often believe that if they are alert enough, they will recognize warning signs and avoid future traumas."

PTSD in adolescents, it is conceded, resembles closely to that of adults. 

The VA also states:  "There are several other factors that affect the occurrence and severity of PTSD. Research suggests that interpersonal traumas such as rape and assault are more likely to result in PTSD than other types of traumas. Additionally, if an individual has experienced a number of traumatic events in the past, those experiences increase the risk of developing PTSD. In terms of gender, several studies suggest that girls are more likely than boys to develop PTSD."

Overall, it seems that some of the children we deal with that have what we now refer to as "detachment" or "attachment" or "trust" disorders, may also be getting an additional diagnosis of PTSD once the DSM-V comes out, should they meet the additional criteria. Again, we never know if additional diagnosis may help or hinder the road to healing for our kids, although perhaps an understanding of PTSD and PTSD therapies may give us another tool to help all of our kids who have dealt with early trauma.

for more information click here:  USDept. of VA 

image:  Flickr
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