Can a Child Have PTSD? | Inspiring Health | © Sacred Heart Hospital

Can a Child Have PTSD?

Anyone can develop post-traumatic stress disorder—including children.

Children who live through a catastrophic event may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The event could be a natural disaster, a car accident, or a friend or family member being diagnosed with a serious illness.

“Responses to stress can be physical and emotional—and will look different for every person” says Jeni Gronemus, LPC, Counselor at Prevea Behavioral Care and Clinical Coordinator at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “A child may experience nightmares, flashbacks, a racing heart, an upset stomach, or feelings of nervousness, sadness, or irritability.”

Many treatment options are available for children who show symptoms of PTSD. One of the most effective methods is cognitive behavioral therapy, during which children talk with a counselor about their feelings about the traumatic event.

“A counselor will meet the child wherever he or she is in the process of healing,” Gronemus says. “The therapy process will help the child develop healthy coping strategies, process the trauma, and build resiliency.”

There is no right or wrong way to experience tragedy, and the healing process will look different for every child, but alleviating the symptoms of PTSD is always possible with help and support.

“Recovery from a difficult experience means you will think and feel differently about the event,” Gronemus says. “Healing will happen if the child is able to process the experience within a support system.”

To learn more about our behavioral health services, call 715.717.5899 or visit sacredhearteauclaire.org/Medical-Services/Behavioral-Health.

You may also be interested in “Love Helps Counter Toxic Stress in Children.”