Following a car crash, everyone involved is usually pretty shaken up. This is especially true if children are involved. From the sounds of screeching tires and breaking glass to the bright lights and sounds of sirens, a crash can be very traumatic to children, even if they are not injured. However, injuries present a whole other list of issues such as pain, inconsolable crying, a scary ambulance ride, extensive tests, surgery, and even an uncomfortable hospital stay. So it’s no wonder that kids often suffer from emotional trauma after a collision.
While some emotions are quite normal for children to feel following an accident, it is important that parents are aware that even minor car crashes can cause children to suffer extensive emotional stress and trauma—even to the point that they may need medical attention for the emotional scars they suffered.
So how can parents know if the emotional wounds a child suffers in a crash ends up being something more serious, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that occurs after being exposed to a traumatic event. While many people think of this problem as one associated with military combat, more and more people are experiencing PTSD from car accidents and acts of violence. In fact, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), children can experience traumatic stress from their exposure to a traumatic event. In order for people to learn about the symptoms of PTSD and to be aware of any potential red flags, the month of June has been designated PTSD Awareness Month.
Helping Children Cope After Being in a Car Crash
Because young minds are fragile after being exposed to trauma, it is critical to be able to identify symptoms of PTSD in order to determine if a child is suffering mentally following a car accident. Symptoms of PTSD can differ depending on the age of the children. The following are guidelines:
- Very young children. Some red flags may include returning to early behaviors such as separation anxiety, clinginess, fear of darkness, bedwetting, and thumb sucking.
- Elementary-age children. Changes in usual behavior, unexplained outbursts of anger, inability to pay attention, changes in school work or new problems at school, nightmares and sleep problems, withdrawal and avoidance, and complaining of headaches and stomachaches are all potential symptoms.
- Pre-teens and teens. Some red flags also includes complaints of headaches and stomachaches as well as truancy from school, changes in school performance, social problems, depression and even suicidal thoughts, anxiety, sleep problems, and sudden risk-taking.
Oftentimes symptoms of PTSD in children are not the same for adults, which is why it is essential that if you are even wondering if your child has PTSD, you seek the appropriate medical care for your child. Sometimes children can develop a fear of driving later in life and other mental health problems if PTSD isn’t treated. This is why it is critical that a child gets the appropriate pediatric psychological treatment early on.
Types of PTSD Treatment for Children
Treating PTSD can include a range of cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, and even medications. Some of the therapies children with PTSD are given include:
- Cognitive behavior therapy. This type of therapy usually consists of children talking about the traumatic event, learning about PTSD symptoms and their effects, and embracing relaxation techniques and other coping skills that can calm them down when they are dealing with their memories.
- Play therapy. This type of therapy is often used on very young children who are not able to directly deal with their feelings and thoughts. With this type of therapy, drawings, games and other techniques are used to help children deal with their traumatic memories of the crash.
Because the emotional well-being of your child is of utmost importance, it is critical that you get the necessary treatment to help your child heal from PTSD. Because we know that treatment can be expensive, it is important that you collect the maximum compensation possible in order to get your child the best care possible. For help holding the wrongdoer accountable and obtaining a financial recovery, contact us for a free consultation today.