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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

PTSD is a condition that may occur after your child has experienced a traumatic situation or event. This event may have caused him or her to feel intense fear, pain, or sorrow. Your child may think he or she, or someone close to him or her, is going to get hurt or die. Your child may also continue to feel helpless after the event. These feelings affect his or her daily activities and relationships.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child hurts himself, herself, or others.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child talks about harming himself or herself.
  • Your child is not sleeping well or is sleeping too much.
  • You feel you cannot help your child at home.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


may include any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given. They help decrease anxiety, depression, or help your child stay calm and relaxed.
  • Therapy may be done in a group or one on one with a therapist. Family and friends are also an important part of recovery.
    • Cognitive behavior therapy helps your child learn to face the feared object or situation slowly and carefully. Your child will also learn to control his or her mental and physical reactions of fear.
      • During cognitive processing therapy , a therapist helps your child identify which thoughts about the trauma cause anxiety. He or she will help your child see the event differently. This may help your child change his or her thoughts and decrease anxiety.
      • During prolonged exposure , a therapist helps your child work through thoughts, feelings, and memories about the trauma. A therapist helps your child learn how to handle his or her thoughts and feelings. This can decrease your child's fear or anxiety.
    • Talk therapy may be one or more meetings with a therapist to have crisis counseling. Your child may have this right after a traumatic event to prevent or decrease further emotional problems.
    • Play therapy may also help your child work through his or her anxiety in a safe environment.
    • Relaxation therapy may help your child feel less physical and emotional stress. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and music are some forms of relaxation therapy.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What you can do to help your child:

  • Talk openly about what happened and listen to your child's worries.
  • Teach people who are close to your child about PTSD, including his or her teacher. Work together to help your child.

For support and more information:

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.