Dealing With PTSD in Medically Complex Children

While most people associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with war veterans or victims of assault, PTSD can affect many people and children due to a range of different situations. Children with complex medical issues are, unfortunately, some of the children who can be affected by this disorder due to their frequent visits to hospitals and doctor offices, and having to undergo medical procedures from such a young age. At RSVP Home Care, serving Ohio, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, we want to provide you with a few tips to help you in dealing with PTSD in your medically complex child.

What is PTSD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. When in danger, it's natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This ‘fight-or-flight’ response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they're no longer in danger.” PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing symptoms with flashbacks, nightmares, and vivid, frightening thoughts; avoidance symptoms, which cause people to avoid places, objects, and thoughts that are somehow related to the traumatic event; reactivity symptoms that lead to people being easily frightened or constantly on edge; and lastly, cognition and mood symptoms, which cause PTSD suffers to forget aspects of the traumatic event entirely, or to take on a sense of guilt and negativity about themselves that can eventually lead to the loss of interest in enjoyable activities and a general detached nature. Children can also begin wetting the bed unexpectedly, exhibiting forgetfulness or muteness, reenacting the traumatic event while playing, and becoming excessively clingy towards a parent.

Complex Children with PTSD

Complex children are surrounded by medical equipment, doctors, big machinery, and frightening experiences, like painful medical procedures, from a young age. Unfortunately, this can lead to Medical PTSD. Complex children are very young when they are introduced to these things and it is hard and almost impossible for them to fully understand the necessity for these traumatic experiences in assuring their health. Because complex children require a different type of care and do not always respond to traditional PTSD treatment methods, it may be necessary to try many different methods to help your child cope with their PTSD.

Coping with PTSD

If you believe that your complex child may be suffering from medical PTSD, pay attention to their moods, appetite, and sleep behavior. If you notice an obvious disturbance to their typical patterns, consult a specialist. In addition to seeking additional medical help, try to connect with other people whose complex children have gone through something similar to get ideas for coping methods. Other tips to help your child cope with PTSD: educate yourself on PTSD, frequently talk with your child about their experiences and fears, listen to your child and their needs, and find a therapist who your child can connect with.

RSVP Home Care

At RSVP Home Care, located in Covington, Kentucky, we put our patients and their families first, and are always here to help with any questions or concerns. Our in-home nursing professionals have experience with a wide range of medical conditions and offer a variety of services for your medically complex child. If you have more questions about helping your complex child cope with PTSD, contact us today!