Therapy

The worrying statistics of PTSD in young people

The mental health and wellbeing of children and young adults has been hitting our headlines over recent years; now, a recent study of more than 2,000 young people under the age of 18 found that one in 13 had experienced some kind of trauma during their childhood and one-quarter of these went on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms include insomnia, flashbacks, and feelings of helplessness, isolation and anxiety.

Support

Experts agree that those suffering are not being given the support they need to deal with their symptoms. It is hoped that the results of the study send a strong message to the government that more needs to be done.

The study, which was published in the highly-respected Lancet Psychiatry, also revealed that more than half of the young people found to be suffering from PTSD had experienced clinical depression and one in five had attempted to take their own life.

Professionals working in the mental health sector had seen one in five of the young people surveyed and agreed that early intervention could prevent mental health affecting them in later life.

The research suggested that trauma at a young age can affect children years later. One child suffered a breakdown aged eight, which neurologists found to be linked to an operation she had as a baby, even though she had no memory of that time.

Professionals are hoping the research will change the public’s perception of PTSD, which is often associated with those working in the armed forces.

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Wales is leading the way in giving young people a voice, with the elected Welsh Youth Parliament putting mental health at the centre of its plans.

Causes and symptoms

There are numerous reasons someone could suffer PTSD, including serious injury, sexual assault, and the loss of a parent or sibling. Symptoms affecting their day to day lives include avoiding places or situations that remind them of what happened, feelings of detachment, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

Parents and carers are being urged to monitor children and young people in their care closely and seek medical intervention if they are concerned or if symptoms last longer than a few weeks.

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