Many people with PTSD can become very anxious and find it difficult to relax. They are then in a state where they are easily frightened and subconsciously constantly on guard against potential threats or hazards in their environment. This state of mind is called hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity often leads to:
- temper tantrums
- sleeping problems (insomnia)
- difficulties concentrating
In addition to the characteristics of PTSD mentioned above, the victim perhaps also discovers that he or she:
- has developed depression, anxiety or phobias
- has developed other physical symptoms – such as headache, dizziness, chest pain and stomach pain
- experiencing feelings of shame, guilt and anxiety
- goes around and feels emotionally numb
- finds it difficult to appreciate things
- numbs his/her feelings by using street drugs, alcohol, or by developing deliberate self-harm
- shields him/herself from what is happening around him/her
- experiencing that the depression that he or she has developed, also manifest itself in physical symptoms.
- has difficulties expressing his/her feelings in words
- has suicidal thoughts
- develops morbid thoughts and fantasies about having an accident or dying
- takes risks and follows the “spur of the moment.
PTSD in Children
PTSD can affect both children and adults. Children with PTSD often experience similar symptoms as adults and get for example sleeping problems and often dream terrible nightmares. And just like adults, children with PTSD, can lose interest in their earlier hobbies and get physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.
But there are certain characteristics that are more specific to children with PTSD, such as:
- that the child may be unusually restless and anxious at the prospect of having to be separated from a parent or another adult.
- they also tend to relive the traumatic event in their games.
Being exposed to trauma as a child will affect their emotional development. The earlier a trauma occurs in a child’s life, the more damage it does. Some children deal with the trauma they have suffered by adopting a defensive attitude or becoming aggressive. Other shield themselves from what is happening around them, and grow up with a sense of shame and guilt, instead of growing up to be an individual with a good self-esteem.
Complex PTSD is also one of the most difficult forms of trauma to remedy, even when adequate trauma therapy is used. What complicates the matter is that the traumatic events occur at the same time as many of the first neurological pathways are created in the child’s brain. The impact that the psychological and emotional stress leaves during the childhood, is therefore particularly difficult to reverse.
Now the entry is over for this time. Please, take care of yourself and others. Thank you. See you if you wish to, next week.
You are welcome to comment if you like, but please do so with respect and good judgement.
Book: Rising from silence, Nancy Kilgore, 2015
© Helén Varenius – text and photo