Trauma (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can happen after a serious traumatic incident or many traumatic events. Any event or incident can be considered traumatic if it is very upsetting, scary, shocking or causes physical or emotional harm directly (to them) or indirectly (to someone else).

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will experience psychological trauma (or PTSD). People who are traumatised and experiencing PTSD may experience symptoms such as:

  • Flashbacks (this is when a person may feel or act as though a traumatic event is happening again).
  • Nightmares.
  • Anxiety and feeling ‘on edge’.
  • Up and down emotions (such as feeling tearful, irritable or numb)

Complex PTSD is a more serious reaction to a long-lasting traumatic experience, for example abuse, neglect or frequent violence.

Top Tips

  • Tip 1

    It is important to remember that everyone copes with things differently. If your child is struggling to cope after a traumatic event, it is important to get help, support and advice. Talk to your GP.

  • Tip 2

    There are many strategies and techniques to help your child cope with flashbacks and anxiety if they are experiencing these. Visit the Youth Anxiety BC website and check the anxiety help section on this website.

  • Tip 3

    Some people find it helpful to keep a log of when they experience trauma symptoms (such as flashbacks) to notice if there are patterns or triggers (things or situations that are more likely to make a flashback happen). If your child does this and notices patterns or triggers, this might help them to make a plan of how to manage these situations if they come up.

  • Tip 4

    Having hobbies and interests and spending time with friends can be really helpful when people are experiencing symptoms of trauma as they can be a good distraction. Try to help your child plan regular time to do activities and see friends.

  • Tip 5

    Available literature:

    A therapeutic treasure box for working with children and adolescents with developmental trauma by Dr Karen Treisman

CAMHS Trauma Referral Guidance

 What we do, what we don’t do and what you can do if you are worried about your child

Difficult, upsetting or traumatic events and experiences happen to young people. Here’s a guide to help you know how best to support your young person if they are experiencing or have experienced a traumatic event. This is not a complete list; young people will experience other types of distress and symptoms which may not be included on this guide:

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