Criteria That Confirm PTSD Symptoms

PTSD treatment is a long, arduous process and depends significantly on the patient’s symptoms and background. However, psychotherapy or talk therapy, family support, and adding medication to the treatment process can significantly help people with PTSD restore normal, healthy life. Several PTSD treatment centers are located throughout the world that can help a child or an adult get rid of PTSD.

What kind of traumatic events can lead to PTSD in a child?

As mentioned earlier, any life-threatening or dangerous event can lead to PTSD. While any traumatic event can invite PTSD symptoms, some of the common traumas related to PTSD are:

  • Road or air accident
  • Calamity or natural disasters, like earthquakes or floods. 
  • A terrorist attack or war
  • Crimes, like robbery, home invasion, murder or kidnapping
  • Physical, mental or sexual abuse (either of the child or anyone else in front of the child)
  • Neglecting the child
  • Problems at home like a house fire
  • Experiencing violence at school or outside
  • The untimely death of a family member or friend


While severe traumas often lead to PTSD, not every time after experiencing trauma, a person or child suffers from PTSD.

Factors that can impact the severity of PTSD in children – 

The following factors can increase/reduce the severity of PTSD:

  • Did the child experience trauma or witnessed it happening to someone else.
  • The relation between the child and the person who has experienced a traumatic event. 
  • The severity of trauma. 
  • Duration of the traumatic event.
  • Reoccurrence of the event or repetitive trauma. 
  • The child’s coping skills and support from family.
  • Health conditions of the child and his family. 
  • Support received by the child at home, school, and among friends. 


Common symptoms found in children with PTSD – 

Children suffering from PTSD most likely go through extreme emotional, mental, and physical distress. PTSD symptoms can be seen as early as three months after the traumatic event or may also take as long as a year to show up. Cases in which symptoms are visible soon after the event are termed as an acute stress disorder. Acute Stress Disorder has the same treatment as PTSD. 

PTSD symptoms may vary depending on the child’s age and the severity of the trauma. Some of the commonly seen symptoms in children include –  

  • Super anxiety when the child is separated from the family
  • Lack of sleep or disturbance in sleeping
  • Feeling upset or irritated
  • Feeling nervous and extremely vigilant
  • Freaking out after hearing loud sounds or experiencing sudden movements
  • Loss of interest in things the child previously enjoyed
  • Isolation and emotional detachment from family members and friends
  • Feeling numb
  • Inability to show affection
  • Aggressive or illogical behavior

When are you under threat of PTSD?

Being in stress or having anxiety is normal. Not every person having anxiety is diagnosed with PTSD. Here are the criteria (divided as A, B, C, D, and E sections) that a person must meet to be diagnosed with PTSD. These symptoms must continue for at least a month, be functionally impairing, and should not be because of substance abuse, medication, or other medical conditions.

Criterion A: Traumatic event

A person must have experienced a threat of:

  • Serious injury
  • Death
  • Physical violence

The exposure can be:

  • direct
  • witnessed
  • passive, when a relative or friend goes through the traumatic event 
  • recurring or extreme exposure to qualifying events, usually by professionals.


Criterion B: Intrusion or Re-experiencing

Re-experiencing the same event or other traumatic event leading to – 

  • Disturbing thoughts or memories
  • Nightmares because of the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks, revisiting the event in mind
  • Irritation or overwhelming reactions (e.g., racing heart, difficulty breathing) when reminded of the traumatic event.


Criterion C: Avoidance symptoms

Avoidant symptoms refer to conditions when a person tries to avoid the event’s memory by various means – 

  • Not paying attention to thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  • Staying away from people or situations associated with the traumatic event


Criterion D: Irritation and negative mood changes

This is a new criterion added to DSM-5 that includes many symptoms observed in people with PTSD. It reflects negative changes in mood or thought patterns, including – 

  • Not being able to remember the entire event
  • Negative thoughts initiating for one’s self or the society
  • Holding oneself or others accountable for the event, even if they are not related directly to the event. 
  • Forming extreme emotions related to the trauma (fear, shame, sadness)
  • Losing interest in activities liked before the trauma
  • Feeling isolated from the outside world


Criterion E: Extreme arousal symptoms

Extreme or increased arousal symptoms refer to the condition when the brain is vigilant, wary, and suspicious of new threats. Symptoms of increased arousal include:

  • Decrease in concentration
  • Irritation, aggressive response or anger
  • Lack of sleep or insomnia
  • Highly vigilant
  • Freaking out all the time


How can you decide if you’ve PTSD?

Do you tend to freak out on almost every other thing? Do you have nightmares? Do you prefer isolation over social gatherings? If you’re experiencing any of these, the chances are that you might have PTSD. The worst thing that happens to people with PTSD is that they freak out in every adverse situation. Therefore, if you are afraid of darkness, a powercut can give you goosebumps. When you have PTSD, nightmares become your friend. It can last for a few weeks, months, or even years. Another commonly observed symptom of PTSD is that people cut themselves off from the rest of the world. It’s like depression when you don’t want to meet anyone or talk to even your family. All you could think of is the possibilities of ending your life and surrendering to the pain. That’s how weak people with PTSD get.

Don’t procrastinate! If you see PTSD symptoms, meet a doctor or counselor.

There are a few things that need professional care, and PTSD is one of them. If you’re experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, it’s time you see a medical practitioner. Not every disease or disorder requires hardcore medication. Some diseases can be cured through counseling, as well. 

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