Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the name for the ongoing reaction and stress following exposure to a traumatic event. PTSD can occur either when a child or teen has been personally harmed or when he or she has witnessed another person being harmed or injured. Some of the types of violent or traumatic events that can cause a child or teen to develop PTSD include physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, natural disasters, assault, and exposure to chronic violence, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. A child may develop PTSD if he or she was physically close to the event, if the event was severe, or if the event was repeated many times. Additionally, a child or teen may develop PTSD if they received little or no positive comfort and support from his or her family or loved ones after the traumatic event. A child or teen with PTSD may develop a number of ongoing and upsetting symptoms that last for more than one month. It is important to note that a majority of children and teens who experience or witness a trauma do not develop PTSD.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in children?
How is post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed in children?
How is post-traumatic stress disorder treated in children?
Anxiety Treatment at Children's National Hospital
The Anxiety Disorders Program is a specialized treatment clinic devoted to carefully assessing and effectively treating a wide range of anxiety disorders common among children and adolescents. Discover more about the treatments we offer.
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Providers Who Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Departments that Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children's National offers assessment, diagnosis and care for children and teens with behavioral, emotional and developmental disorders.
Anxiety Disorders Program
The Anxiety Disorders Program at Children's National Hospital is a specialized treatment clinic devoted to carefully assessing and effectively treating a wide range of anxiety disorders common among children and adolescents.
Psychology and Behavioral Health
In the Division of Psychology and Behavioral Health, our child psychologists and other mental health professionals work exclusively with children and teens, emphasizing patient and family-focused care.