Saturday, August 28, 2010

How children react to parents with PTSD

One family member's PTSD can have terrible effects on the rest of the family, especially when it's a parent suffering.

According to an article from the National Center for PTSD, the symptoms of PTSD "can be frightening not only for the individual experiencing them but also for the children who witness them."

Children often react to PTSD in three common ways: by behaving like their PTSDer parent (the "over-identified child"); by trying to fill the adult's normal role in the family (the "rescuer child"); or by becoming emotionally uninvolved.

All of these responses can pose problems for a child later in life. And in fact, the children can, themselves, develop their own cases of PTSD, a condition known as "intergenerational transmission of trauma."

But that doesn't mean the situation is hopeless for families. According to the article, simply explaining to a child why a parent has been traumatized (without going in graphic detail) can go a long way toward alleviating the stress a child feels.

Treatment/therapy as a family is also often a valuable asset and tool.

If anyone in your family is suffering from PTSD, this article by Jennifer L. Price, PhD, is essential reading:

When a Child's Parent Has PTSD - National Center for PTSD

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