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PTSD / Fears & Phobias

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms can vary for people, but can include any of the following:  

Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
Hypervigilance (On constant ‘red alert’)
Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. Pounding heart, Nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Irrational and intense fear
Reduced tolerance to noise (hyperacusis)
Difficulty concentrating
Being easily moved to tears
Panic attacks/anxiety/depression/mood swings
Feeling jumpy and easily startled
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Anger or aggressive behaviour
Tense muscles
Avoidance and numbing
Work-related or relationship problems
Inability to remember important aspect of the trauma
Loss of interest in activities and life in general
Sense of a limited future
Feeling numb and empty
Avoidance of people and places
Feeling isolated
Frequent periods of withdrawal into oneself

Re-experiencing the traumatic event
Flashbacks (Acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
Other common symptoms
Feeling suicidal
Self harm and self-destructive tendencies
Feeling distrustful and suspicious/blaming others
Guilt, Shame, embarrassment or self blame
Misuse of alcohol/drugs/gambling and/or food
Seeking out high-risk/dangerous pursuits
Physical aches and pains
Over-reactions to minor situations
Fear of being alone and fear of being in crowds
Individuals with PTSD almost always have altered cortisol levels, and a prolonged exposure to these increased hormones can cause some unexpected, and very inconvenient physical problems – you can read our blog post ’10 unexpected physical symptoms of PTSD’ here.

Symptoms of PTSD in children and adolescents
In children—especially those who are very young—the symptoms of PTSD can be different than the symptoms in adults. Symptoms in children include:
Fear of being separated from parent
Losing previously-acquired skills (such as toilet training)
Sleep problems and nightmares without recognizable content
Somber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated
New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as a fear of monsters)
Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings
Aches and pains with no apparent cause
Irritability and aggression
School-aged children (ages 5-12)
These children may not have flashbacks or problems remembering parts of the trauma, the way adults with PTSD often do. Children, though, might put the events of the trauma in the wrong order. They might also think there were signs that the trauma was going to happen. As a result, they think that they will see these signs again before another trauma happens. They think that if they pay attention, they can avoid future traumas.
Children of this age might also show signs of PTSD in their play. They might keep repeating a part of the trauma. These games do not make their worry and distress go away. For example, a child might always want to play shooting games after he sees a school shooting. Children may also fit parts of the trauma into their daily lives. For example, a child might carry a gun to school after seeing a school shooting.
Teens (ages 12-18)
Teens are in between children and adults. Some PTSD symptoms in teens begin to look like those of adults. One difference is that teens are more likely than younger children or adults to show impulsive and aggressive behaviors.

Other affects of trauma on children
Besides PTSD, children and teens that have gone through trauma often have other types of problems. Much of what we know about the effects of trauma on children comes from the research on child sexual abuse. This research shows that sexually abused children often have problems with
Fear, worry, sadness, anger, feeling alone and apart from others, feeling as if people are looking down on them, low self-worth, and not being able to trust others
Behaviors such as aggression, out-of-place sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol


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