#JamesDonaldson On #MentalHealth – Signs Of #Trauma In #Children

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What to watch for in the weeks and months after an upsetting event

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What You’ll Learn

  • What are the signs of #trauma in #children?
  • Who is at risk for #trauma?
  • How can I help my #child deal with #trauma?

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Quick Read

When upsetting things happen to a #child, their #parents and #teachers will try to help them work through their distress or #grief in a healthy way. Most will rebound without suffering long-term effects. But some #children are more at risk for experiencing long-term pain. These #kids include those who have lost a close friend and those who learned about an event or loss in a very upsetting way.

Even as you try to soothe and comfort your #child, it’s important to know when you might need to seek professional help.

There are some clear signs that your #child might be traumatized. They could need some additional help with their emotions if they:

· Experience grief 3 to 6 months after the event happened

· Have become fascinated by death

· Have become obsessed with their safety

· Suddenly have problems with sleeping, eating, anger or attention

· Are triggered by things like the birthday of someone who died

· Continue to refuse to go to #school because that is where the upsetting event happened

In extreme cases, #children can develop #posttraumaticstressdisorder, but even less extreme #PTSD-like symptoms can interfere with a child’s life and happiness. #Stress and #trauma can look different in #girls and #boys. Typically, #boys tend to react more quickly and with more irritation and anger. #Girls may take longer to react and keep their feelings inside.

In the wake of a disturbing event or tragic loss in the lives of #children, we know #parents and #teachers will do their best to help #kids cope with their #grief and #anxiety in a healthy way. We have provided some tips on how best to engage #kids in a calm and supportive dialog about their feelings—it’s certainly not easy to do, but it can make a big difference to #kids.

Still, some #children are more at risk than others for suffering long-term effects from an upsetting event, including those who have lost close friends or classmates and those who might have learned about the event or loss in a particularly emotional and upsetting way.

How a #child experiences an event and how it’s handled by those around him have an effect on how traumatizing it can be, notes #ChildMindInstitute #psychologist Jerry Bubrick, PhD. When families come upon news accidentally, #parents can be caught off guard and respond in a highly emotional way that can impact #children. Television coverage and shocking newspaper headlines can also amplify the impact of a disturbing event or loss.

So even as you try to soothe and comfort #children, it is important to recognize the signs of unhealthy coping that would suggest a visit with a professional might be needed. In extreme cases, #children can develop #posttraumaticstressdisorder, but even less extreme #PTSD-like symptoms can interfere with a child’s life and happiness. Here are some signs to look for and things to keep in mind.

#James Donaldson notes:
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Order your copy of James Donaldson’s latest book,
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From The Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joy

Normal #grief

“Everyone grieves at a different pace,” Dr. Bubrick says, and an immediate reaction—or lack of one—is not really an indicator of how a #child will cope with the loss. “If a #child seems to be coping well now, they might still have a poor reaction later,” he says. ”Or it could also just be a sign that they’re handling it well.” So while we want to help our #children as much as possible immediately after the event, a lasting and hurtful response usually won’t be evident until 3 or 6 months later.

Increased thinking about death and safety

One common sign of #PTSD or a #PTSD-like reaction is what Dr. Bubrick calls a “hyper-focus on mortality or death.” And while some #kids become notably morbid and fascinated by death, others will develop an obsession with their own safety and the safety of those close to them. In the case of a fire or another disaster, their thoughts might return with disturbing regularity to the possibility of a fire in their own home, or of the earthquake or flood happening where they live.

Problems with sleeping, eating, anger, and attention

Some of the symptoms of #trauma in #children (and #adults) closely mimic #depression, including too much or too little sleep, loss of appetite or overeating, unexplained irritability and anger, and problems focusing on projects, #school work, and conversation. Sometimes the symptoms appear more like an #anxietydisorder—obsessive or pervasive worry, difficulty separating from #parents.

Triggers

A year after a tragic event, we tend to look back, take stock, and memorialize those whose lives were lost. But as Dr. Bubrick observes, there are other anniversaries connected to children’s lives that could have unexpected consequences for them—the birthdays of friends or classmates who died, for instance. #Children “could be basically OK between now and then, maybe with some rocky periods,” he says. “And then around the time of the birthday, they could have more symptoms. It’s a trigger.”

#School refusal

When an event is connected to #school, such as the loss of classmates or violence at #school itself, an unhealthy reaction could take the form of avoiding #school. As Dr. Bubrick points out, #school is “where the most reminders of the #kids’ deaths will be.” While episodes of depression, heightened anxiety, trouble sleeping, and a fixation on the accident may be transient, avoiding #school is a clear sign that something is wrong. “For the most part, everyone is going to experience some form of those things, altogether or in pieces,” says Dr. Bubrick. “But if, over time, it’s not really lifting and it’s continuing, it may result in #school refusal altogether. At that point we definitely know the #child needs help.”

You should also know that #stress and #trauma can manifest differently in #girls and #boys. Although this is by no means definitive, #boys often react more quickly and with more irritation and anger, while #girls can have delayed reactions that are more internal.

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