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Symptoms of PTSD in children and teens

Children and teens with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have symptoms similar to those in adults. However, children and teens can have additional symptoms or problems.

  • Toddlers with PTSD may have problems learning how to control their bowels and bladder. They may not develop skills (especially language skills) as soon as other toddlers.
  • Children may have frightening dreams or repeatedly "play out" the event.
  • School-age children with PTSD may be disorganized, may have poor concentration, and tend to be aggressive. They may relive the traumatic event through their play. Since attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has some symptoms similar to those of PTSD, a child may be misdiagnosed.
  • Teens with PTSD are more likely to drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. They may also have difficulty developing the skills they need to become independent, self-sufficient adults.
Author Stuart J. Bryson
Author Christine Wendt, R.D., L.D.
Editor Geri Metzger
Editor Nancy Reid
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Associate Editor Terrina Vail
Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Malin K. Clark, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 13, 2005
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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