Sometimes young people are exposed to or experience situations or events that are traumatic, life threatening, horrific and terrifying. When this happens, sometimes young people go on to develop symptoms of PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD are in three main categories:
This is when someone keeps remembering the traumatic event even when they don’t want to. They may get flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or nightmares. This can affect their ability to move on or even concentrate.
Avoidance and Numbing
Sometimes people might feel too terrified to relive the event or think about it so they might try to keep themself busy and keep their mind occupied. They might avoid the places and people that remind them of the trauma, and try not to talk about it. Some people may deal with the pain of their feelings by trying to feel nothing at all – by becoming emotionally numb.
Being on guard and unable to relax
Sometimes people may feel anxious all the time and feel unable to let their guard down. We call this ‘hypervigilance’ and ‘hyperarousal’. This might make people feel jumpy and irritable and they may find it hard to sleep.
Young people may experience PTSD immediately after a traumatic event or it may start weeks, months or years later. Most people who have experienced a traumatic event would experience some or all of the symptoms above for the first few weeks afterwards and many people go on to recover naturally given time, understanding and support. Around one in 3 people who experience trauma will develop PTSD.
Young people who have experienced severe neglect or abuse may develop complex PTSD. This looks and feels much like the description above but includes further symptoms and experiences such as intense guilt, shame, an overly sensitive fight/flight response, difficulties with impulse control, feeling numb and finding it difficult to trust and connect to people. At CAMHS, we will work hard to understand the causes of any PTSD and help you to begin to recover using interventions that are evidence based.
More information can be found by following these links:
Royal College of Psychiatrists: