Just like adults, children can suffer from PTSD. The symptoms may look a little different in children, but it’s still PTSD.
First off, what is PTSD? PTSD is Posttraumatic stress disorder. This can occur after a very traumatic event. In prior history we associated PTSD with soldiers who had faced battle. Now we understand that it can affect anyone.
What can Cause PTSD in Children
Bad accidents, such as car wreck
Invasive medical procedures, especially for children younger than age 6
Natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes
Manmade tragedies, such as bombings
Violent personal attacks, such as a mugging, rape, torture, or kidnapping
Witnessing the death of a loved one
Emotional abuse or bullying
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD in Children
Have problems sleeping
Feel depressed or grouchy
Not understand why they are crying
Change in eating habits
Feel nervous, jittery, or alert and watchful (on guard)
Lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They may seem detached or numb and are not responsive.
Have trouble feeling affectionate
Be more aggressive than before, even violent
Stay away from certain places or situations that bring back memories
Have flashbacks. These can be images, sounds, smells, or feelings. The child may believe the event is happening again.
Lose touch with reality
They may cling to the person that they feel safe with
Reenact an event for seconds or hours or, in rare cases, days
Have problems in school
Have trouble focusing
Worry about dying at a young age
Act younger than their age, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting
Have physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches
Sometimes PTSD in children can look like ADHD
What to do as a Parent
If you notice these changes in your child and they persist, talk to their doctor. Get your child into counseling and keep every appointment. Listen to your child when they want to talk about what happened. You have to admit that the event happened and acknowledge it for your child. Let the child’s school counselor know what happened so they can check in on your child. Talk to their doctor about medications that could help your child. Take it seriously! Don’t just pass it off as nothing. Understand that your child may need you more. They may cling to you because you are their safety net.
25 years. That’s how long it has been since my dad took his own life. Yesterday was the anniversary of his death. The anger and anguish are still with, me even after all of this time. The questions that I had then, are the same questions that I have now, but there are no answers. There is only silence.
I remember the evening that I got the phone call about my dad. I was at the Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga with some friends. My mom paged me, so I went back to my car to call her back on my bag phone. (This was before everyone had cell phones). The first thing that she asked me was who was with me. I told her and she wanted to talk to the friend that was right beside me. I asked her what was wrong? She asked me several times to let her speak to someone else and I told her no, she had to tell me what was going on. The next few sentences changed my life. She said, “it’s your dad. He shot himself.” I asked her if he was ok and she said, “No baby, he’s not.” I remember screaming and crying. I remember getting in the car to go home and talking to my mom on the phone all the way home. I remember the empty and sick feeling I had. I thought I was going to throw-up. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I might die because of the pain and shock my body was going through.
The rest of the night and following days were a blur. I remember sitting at the funeral home with my sister, aunts and uncles to make arrangements. I remember saying that I wanted to see my dad and everyone trying to talk me out of it. My sister stood up for me and told everyone to let me, it was something that I had to do. I was going to do it regardless.
The night of visitation I got to go back to a room and see my dad for the last time. Other than a bruise on his cheek, he looked like he was sleeping peacefully. The funeral director wouldn’t let me stay long with him. So every time I got the chance I would sneak out of the visitation room and go back to the room where my dad was. I got caught more than once being in the room with him. I spent that time talking to him, asking him questions that he was never going to answer, and stoking his hair. I didn’t know how to say good bye when I didn’t understand anything.
I don’t know if my dad couldn’t take the loss of his mother, she died just a few week before, or if he couldn’t deal with his dad being terminal with cancer. Maybe he was just tired and fed up with this world. I still ask why weren’t my sister and I enough? Why didn’t he love us more? Did he even think about us prior to his decision? Did he think that we would be better off without him? I wonder what lies the devil was whispering in his ear. I wonder what demons he was fighting. I wonder if he had been planning this all along or if it was a quick, snap decision that he made.
I think about everything that he has missed. He wasn’t there when I got married. He has four amazing grandsons who would have adored him and he has a great granddaughter who just turned a year old. He has missed Christmas’ and Thanksgivings. He has missed graduations and birthdays. He has missed those just because days that are filled with laughter.
I think about the impact that it had on me and my self-worth. There was a period of time when I felt that if my own father didn’t love me, how could anyone else love me. I felt that I wasn’t worthy of love. I felt like I was the problem and that I was bad for people. I felt like a failure. I cut myself off from others. I didn’t want to ever get close to anyone or love anyone because it just led to pain. And for years I didn’t let anyone in. I closed myself off from feeling to deeply for anyone, other than the people that were already in my circle. Sadly, I didn’t realize what a injustice I was doing to myself.
I now realize that whatever it was, my dad had some reason for doing what he did. It breaks my heart that he felt that was the only way out, but I have excepted it. I realize that we were enough and that the battle he was fighting won. I realize that it wasn’t us, but the lies of the demons he was battling. I know that he loved us and I believe that he knew we loved him too.
I would have to say that this is the most accurate description of anxiety and depression that I have seen. Often times you are so tired. It’s more of an emotional tiredness than a physical tiredness. You want to be productive, but either fear of failure or the tiredness stops you. It’s wanting to be with your family and friends, but the thought of being around people makes your anxiety go up and you start to feel overwhelmed. You want to be alone, because it feels safe and you want to feel loved. It’s wanting to close yourself off from everything and everyone and needing a hug from the ones that you love.
People who have never dealt with anxiety and depression don’t understand the constant battle.
Journaling helps you focus on internal thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it can be hard to express how or what you are feeling, but practicing writing therapy can help bring mental clarity. Journaling can help you gain control over your emotions and provide relief from day to day stressors. If you are struggling with overwhelming stress, anxiety, and depression, then writing therapy is a great way to help build your emotional wellbeing. An easy way to start is by making a bullet point list of events that you had positive and negative emotions towards. Journaling can gradually help you distinguish daily stressors and recognize ways better ways handle them.
If you have any questions or would like to call to make an appointment, Call at: 706-265-5681
The holiday season is, unfortunately, one of the busiest times of the year for counselors. During this time when we’re “supposed” to be cheerful and bright, we miss those we’ve lost. It’s a time of year when we feel the absence of loved ones the most.
For others, the issue is less about missing a loved one and more about the simple wish to feel loved – or at least wanted. If you’re already depressed, if you feel like you’re alone in the world, or if you feel like no one cares, then the holiday season amplifies these feelings and you feel worse, not better. And it certainly doesn’t help when everyone around you seems to be happy. What’s worse is when they tell you to smile or begin a sentence with “why don’t you…” and end their question with some platitude that only confirms that nobody gets what you’re going through. Ugh!
We want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, A LOT of people feel crappy during the holidays. We don’t mean to be unprofessional by using a word like “crappy,” but, honestly, it really is the best adjective in this case, don’t you think? After all, no one feels the exact same as you, and it would be wrong for us to cram everyone into the same emotional box. Yet it’s true that you’re not alone and many people just wish the holidays could be over already. The holiday blues strike many more people than you would guess, based on their outward demeanor. However, the unfortunate truth is that many, many people struggle with their feelings during this time of year.
Some people even feel so bad that they think of hurting themselves. If this is you, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Don’t even finish reading this post! Just click on the phone number and talk to someone who’s prepared to help you right now.
If you’re not one of the people who feel like the world would be better off without them (trust us, that’s never true!) and you’re just trying to figure out what you can do to make it through the holiday blues without hating yourself or everyone around you, then give us a call. We get it. Really, we do. And we know it sucks. We won’t judge you or tell you that you have to change. Because your feelings are real, and they’re part of you, and you don’t have to change if you don’t want to. But, with that said, it might be time to figure out a healthier way of facing the holidays, and that is what we’re best at.
We can help you learn to cope. We can help you learn to manage your holiday blues and other emotions. We can help you learn to function, even in the face of feelings that used to leave you feeling broken and alone and unwilling to even breathe. … Grief, depression, trauma, and anxiety are all big deals. They can all make normal days feel unbearable, and they definitely don’t get any easier to deal with during the holidays.
Coping with the holiday blues is never easy, but there are a few things you can do to alleviate the loneliness, depression, anxiety, or other emotions you might be feeling.
The first thing to do is give yourself permission to feel the way you do. It’s OK. It’s also normal. So, be gentle with yourself.
The second thing to do is try to understand where your thoughts and feelings originate. This task can be very difficult, and it’s where a good counselor can help you the most. When we learn to think about our emotions, we can cope with them more effectively. If thinking about and understanding the source of your thoughts and feelings seems like an impossible task, then begin by trying to put labels on your emotions. Try to be more specific than, “I feel lonely” or “I am sad” by adding the word “because” to the end. This process will help you because it acknowledges that the things you feel are real in addition to helping you understand why you feel the way you do.
Putting a label on the things you feel is like attaching a handle to them, and it allows you to carry them as well as decide when and where to put them down. You are in control, and you can make the decision to carry your emotions or not. Sometimes we need to carry them, and the only person who can determine what’s most appropriate for you is you.
The third thing to do is explore new ways of being. If the things you’ve been doing aren’t working for you, then it might be time to switch things up a little bit. If you’re spending a lot of time alone, try finding someone to hang out with. If your faith is important to you but you haven’t been attending services lately, then try going to church. If you miss exercising, then try to get back into a routine of working out. But, whatever you do, don’t expect to be “better” after just one time of doing something different than you’ve been doing. It’s going to take time, and you’re going to need to experiment a little before you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
A lot of the process can be done without help from us or any other counselor. We understand that fact. However, the counseling process works remarkably well, and sometimes it’s just nice to know someone is working through the issues with you, even when you’re pretty sure you can do it on your own. So, with that said, we hope you’ll reach out to us and ask for help. But even if don’t, we wish you health and peace during this holiday season.