Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents

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19 January 2016

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              Trauma, according to the National Trauma Society, is the among the leading causes of death in the last forty years and accounts for close to 80 percent of the general population in the US. The study shows that children and adults are the common victims; approximately half of the adult population in their late teens is victims to a case of maltreatment or trauma while about 25 percent report more cases. Chemtob and Abramovtiz (2008) undertook studies in preschool and noted 53% of the children experiencing 1 of the 13 cases. This figure however secludes other causes of trauma, as it does not entail sexual and physical abuse. Trauma starting at such an early stage in life sets the ground for psychopathology in later stages of life. This paper shall focus on the nature of traumatic injury, what causes it, the varied forms of trauma present and how to cope as well as vital treatments available.

Traumatic Experience

              Trauma is any case that experiences a prolonged or irregular harm of the body. The experience is life threatening and may overwhelm the mechanisms in the body vital in protecting the body. Several people go through many instances of trauma. Severe trauma like combat exposure and serious accidents are common instances. However, even the most successful people face traumatic experiences. Issues in childbirth, sickness or injury, parental drunkenness or insanity as well a parental divorce are common instances of traumatic instances for children (Boer, and Verken, 2009). In future, motor vehicle cases, surgical processes, lack of employment or passing away of loved family members are all cases that are life threatening. The issue regarding trauma or other bad experiences is the level at which it affects with the happiness of an individual. Other people can succumb to depression and dysfunction even from less what appears as less serious cases. This forms of reactions relates to an individual’s health and how much trauma the have experienced in the earlier part of their life. When one is able to go through hard times in life, like being happy, then the traumatic event forms part of their past allowing them to live their present life.

In cases where the traumatic cases are not well managed or connected to the body, then an individual’s experiences is lived as though the past and present are still connected. A good instance a Vietnam person who is aware of his mental condition that is at present while his body still lives as though it is still in the early 70s. The person is bound to suffer from panic attacks and paranoia on a daily basis and this noted from the varied symptoms of misery (Blaustein, & Kinniburgh, 2007). The body processes and not the actual event that took place are the main causes of the post-traumatic dysfunction. The war that took place in Vietnam took place long in the past. The events that take place in him are memories to people who have not recovered. The trends in the person’s body and nervous system operation, that started much earlier, form the basis of emotions, and thoughts that make a person agonize over unresolved trauma. There are several forms of trauma, like natural disasters which experts states is common in 13-30 percent of people who have gone through such experiences of natural disasters. The natural disasters may range from earthquakes, fires, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Other forms of traumatic event comprise of mass interpersonal violence, fires, vehicle accidents, sexual assaults and violence among others.

Early Development of Trauma

              Getting to know of the ways interpersonal relationships at the start of life affects the progress of neural pathways used in self-regulation. This is vital as it helps us know the formation of an individual’s personality, behavior, and persistent trend in the family dynamics. A psych neurobiological aspect that is keen on the first years of a person’s life when the human brain is growing rapidly those other parts of their life. Traumatic events have an impact on a person’s mind and body and have long-term impact on their life. Secure attachment bonds are the most effective process to help in coping against trauma-induced psychopathology in children and adults (Blaustein, & Kinniburgh, 2007). The increasing number of children who have the signs of psychiatric disorder in the modern day and create challenges to community and mental state to assess the vital elements of attachment formation and the time many people believe is the basis where all psychiatric disorders arise.

Nature and Causes of Trauma

              A person’s life goes through several issues among them; a review one’s life in terms of the success, failures and things set to achieve; looking for a meaning in life like their place in the society, things valued against expectations; conversant of ageing, the goals to meet and; the physical attributes like grey hair, and hormones. These changes in a person’s life affect a person’s life resulting to depression and trauma. Trauma events can be objective or subjective lacking the ability to control something. Traumatic cases may not arise due to disasters; they can also be due to accidents, and stress. This makes a person to suffer from varied signs of trauma. There is similarly other factor in the social realm like trauma like war or politics that can lead to extensive or unexpected cases of trauma. Cases like when one watches dangerous instances that may lead to the death of a person or witnessing the death of a person can cause trauma, while instances of human rights violations like kidnapping or torture are most common causes of posttraumatic disorders (PSTD)( Alexander, 2012). There are also cases of domestic violence that cause trauma like marriages, child abuse and sexual cases. Studies show that sexual violence is a common cause of trauma.

The trauma may have notable effects on a person’s emotions. Avoiding emotional distress is viable but may not work; however, stopping emotions can be stopped by intense emotions. Therefore, there is a probability to manage emotions, reflect, and control them before they become hard to control. Emotions like fear and anxiety are notable in experiences. Keeping aware of things allows one to apply defense mechanisms before they go out of hand. Additionally, it is necessary that one becomes aware of the symptoms of trauma. Every person responds differently, this can lead to emotions like anger and fear and it may be destructive on an individual’s life like keeping distance from friends and misusing drugs.

It is easy to see a person with traumatic signs. They are grouped into physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive signs. A person’s body may react by facing pains, tiredness, lack of appetite, and lack of sleep. These signs are common irrespective of the physical condition of the person. The emotional signs arising from trauma are fear and anxiety, shock and belief. This makes a person become overwhelmed. The emotional stress that arises due to trauma can affect a person’s behavior and their relation with other people (Blaustein, & Kinniburgh, 2010). They remove themselves from the social setup, start abusing drugs, and acquire poor tendencies. The pattern of though acquired by a person is affected by the event and cognitive signs like poor concentration, and difficulty making decisions arise. These signs begin once the traumatic event is experienced. This event is hard to recover from and may take up to years to acquire their original state.

The victim-based elements can lead to variations of the impact of traumatic experiences, which regard to: gender, age and lifestyle, and nervous system as well as the distress surrounding the experience. Trauma can alter the meaning of life and create feelings and experiences not easily grouped in diagnostic guidebooks. These existential effects comprise of notable emptiness, lack of connection with the spiritual being or disruptions in ability to care and trust (Arvidson, et. al., 2011). There exist varied forms of traumatic reactions like depression, psychotic depression, anxiety, and stress. Trends applied in the flow of energy and information defined as chaotic states show the absence of resolution of trauma. The impact is that it interferes with the capacity to adapt to changes in an environment.

The attachment association at the start of life shapes the maturity of a child’s brain, which starts an adaptive activity in the assessment visual and auditory socio-emotional communicative signs and stress reaction. This model of critical understanding into child development similarly operates in teenagers and adults. Reid states that trauma takes place before there is sufficient differentiation of the person from others and before one acquires the ability to symbolize, a child is not able to remove itself from experience. This is common in adults and children going through traumatic disorders.

Effects of Trauma

              When faced with a dangerous situation, people in most cases go through feelings of fear and helplessness. This experience can be through physical harm or witnessing an event. After these experiences begin to go through experiences that changes how they see life. The length of time these problems are noted may have a bad impact on the victims. There are varied effects that arise from these conditions; a person may get overwhelmed with fear and others may begin showing symptoms. The most common symptoms include mental and physical re-minder of the experience(s).

Re-experiencing the trauma is common in the survivors. This means that they continue to have similar mental, emotional, and physical experiences that took place sometime back. This can be thinking about the trauma, witnessing image of what took place, feeling disturbed and feeling physical impressions similar to what took place. The victims acquire the feelings and act a though the trauma is taking place again; they start feeling vulnerable, panic, anger and think of harming people (Roth, 2013). This is since they are anxious and get agitated, they get trouble sleeping and concentrating. These problems are never voluntary and the victim finds it hard to control it from taking place. Mentally, the experience can comprise, bad memories, change of mood when reminded of the event, difficulty controlling emotions due to anxiety and difficulty concentrating. There are similarly physical reactions to trauma like difficulty sleeping, getting agitated, startled by loud sounds, getting sweaty and shaky when faced with certain situations and difficulty breathing.

Due to these upsetting feelings, the trauma victims in most cases behave as though they are in constant danger when stressed or something reminds them of an event. They may tend to feel unsecure in cases that are not dangerous. Since these people acquire the feeling of danger in certain circumstances, they may become aggressive in cases that are not necessary. Although going through the signs are not a pleasant feeling, they show that the body and mind are trying to handle the traumatic experience. These signs are automatic and there is a probability that going through these signs are part of the mind’s effort to make sense of what takes place.

Post Traumatic Symptoms

              There are two forms of symptoms for traumatic victims: secondary and associated symptoms. In secondary symptoms, issues arise due to post-traumatic experiences and avoidance signs. For instance, since a person wants to evade talking about a traumatic experience an increased number of symptoms may arise as a result. As time goes by, the secondary symptoms are a trouble and affect the victim compared to the first experience and avoidance signs.

Associated symptoms are issues that arise indirectly from excessive fear; however, it may take place because of things that take place at the time the trauma happened. For instance, a person who is psychologically traumatized in an accident may be harmed physically and depressed due to he cannot work or leave the house. There are varied issues known as secondary or associated trauma signs: aggressive tendency to other people can take place due to frustration over the ability to manage the traumatic signs (Lopez, 2012). Similarly, it can take place when other events that took place at the period of trauma make the person angry. Some people become aggressive since they grow up in a family with people overreacted when they become angry and could not manage their feelings. Since anger makes people to stay away, they similarly hinder people from creating a positive connection and getting assistance. Anger and aggression have the ability to result to job issues, marital and relationship issues as well as loss of close associates. Similarly, guilt can arise when traumatic sign make it hard to meet the daily responsibilities. Moreover, it can take place when people start doubting their actions or what they missed in trauma. Most people in trying to resolve issues end up blaming themselves. This is not genuine and it does not take into consideration issues that arise. This leads to extensive levels of distress and can stop a person from meeting other people. The society in such cases ends up blaming the survivor and this is not right.

The victims can at times feel disconnected from their friends, family, and associates. In most cases, it does not take into consideration the reason as to why the event took place and starts having trouble in expressing what they feel. After the traumatic experience, the victims are not able to handle some issues and stop trying to mend their relationships with friends and family (Roth, 2013). The victims can similarly face some physical signs and issues that arise due to facing extended period of physical distress or anxiety. They hence stop going for medical checkups, as it is constant reminder of trauma and leads to anxiety and hence poor health. The habits commonly applied by victims of trauma like consumption of alcohol have the effect of deteriorating the health of victims. Similarly, other things can take place like when going through trauma like physical injury (Lieberman, & van Horn, 2008). Lastly, misuse of drugs and alcohol are other ways that people going through trauma use to stop any bad feelings. These common steps would prove harmful to the victims in future. However, the posttraumatic experience signs and other trauma-connected issues could take up a big chunk of an individual’s attention when they do through pain, and distress.

Effective Therapeutic Interventions

              People have varied meanings to their lives and this is common in their experiences and life choices made. The life forms their identity and it is shaped by psychological, cultural or event. It is hence necessary to take into consideration the elements necessary for effective management of traumatic experiences. The ability to sustain continuity at a general life perspective and trauma level is believed to be a sign of managing trauma. This ability ought to show itself and the victim should be aware. Acquiring meaning from life is a vital step in coping with trauma. The most effective process entails an inner search for value of life to the victim. Questions like why and what to achieve are some of these questions for the survivor in getting meaning.

The realization of the ability of the body as a problem and solution in post-traumatic experiences results to the emergence of psychotherapy. In reference to talk therapy as a model of coping with trauma, the method acts as though the mind and emotions are an area of healing. The body processes are more accurate when compared to using talk or emotional elements (David and Driscoll, 2013). The strength and persistence of traumatic experiences shows that we are able to repeat tendencies, feelings, and thoughts in a repetitive manner. These patterns may go on for long disregarding efforts to control it. This persistence arises due to past traumatic instances having being due to life or death. The interventions affecting the ameliorating trauma ought to focus on advancing the effectiveness of psychobiological communications in the body attachments and maximizing the maturation of limbic-autonomic connections and brain systems applied in regulation. Assessing oneself is the most effective way to coping with trauma among the varied ways available in assessing oneself in cases of traumatic experience. Possessing the feeling of responsibility, guilt or passiveness are what goes through an individual. These factors start to rise when coping begins. According to psychologists and spiritual leaders, there ought to undertake several processes to cope with trauma.

The first step is to taking good care of the body, it can be physical injury or emotional affliction. This is through eating fruits and a balanced diet, constant exercise like running and sit-ups as well as getting enough sleep to get a healthy body (Kuhn, and Pieramici, 2011). These steps are vital as it helps an individual cope with stressful situations and improves their mood. Additionally, one is able to mobilize their support model through creating a good relationship and connecting with others going through these experiences. When one is able to talk about what they experience they are in a good position to understand their emotions and are able to note what needs rapid action. Keeping a normal schedule is another professional measure that helps cope with trauma. The victims should stay in touch with others and avoid keeping to themselves. Their daily activities should progress as normal as this will allow them to setup themselves and acquire a sense of order and avoid life issues that arise. Having fun with life is another way to coping with stressful situations, as doing things that one likes; cooking, watching the television, or singing. This allows one to restore their life.

Victims of traumatic experiences in most cases go through hard times in life and may feel secluded from others. In such instances, it is recommended to seek help from experts like psychiatrist, counselors, spiritual leaders, or other people who may offer valuable assistance (Allen, 2008). In this regard, meditation and prayer are useful ways and is often encouraged by spiritual leaders like pastors and priests. Looking for spiritual guidance could be of great help to victims in getting to understand and get answers to questions or doubts people face in life. In all the efforts applied to help victims of trauma to cope with the condition, it is highly recommended that they do not do things that would aggravate their condition. This could be like avoiding drug, stressful environments, and harmful people. It is common for trauma victims to engage in drugs as a way to ease their pain. However, professional studies and advice show that these drugs pose a harm in any progress made to get better (Legome, and Shockley, 2011). It is hence more advisable to take time and follow doctors and pastor’s advice. Taking time off to relax, walk in parks and listening to soothing music is helpful. Spending time with family and friends are also vital in soothing the mind.

 Spiritual and Practical Methods to coping with Trauma

              Trauma is both a psychological and emotional change of the body. An effective of treating the mind is through soothing the mind and acquiring meaning to life. This can be through use of spiritual and practical measures in handling trauma. Spiritual leaders like pastors and priests are known and keen to handling depression and trauma. They help individuals to handle depression and trauma. They are of the belief that prayer allows us to handle issue we face in life. Christians see trauma as one where it stimulates through the feel of guilt or harming other people’s feelings as well as having outlived God’s will leading to depression. Moreover, when one has the feeling of death, it can harm and lead to trauma (Johnson, 2011). In this regard, meditation on the Holy Scriptures, prayer and other spiritual activities can allow one have the ‘balm of Gilead’ that heals the sick or sin. References are made to the scriptures on how God comforts the depressed and not pulled down by depressions. There is justification for spiritual healing, though spiritual leaders call upon their follows to acquire a more practical model and look for treatment from health professionals.


              Posttraumatic experience is a condition that causes much distress to its victims. This paper has focused on varied issues that relate to posttraumatic experiences and considers it an act of detachment of the memory from the self. It focused on the causes of trauma. They are varied types like those caused by natural disasters; floods, fire, and earthquake: there those that arise from personal experience like sexual harassment, rape, accidents, and death. Its victims have symptoms that are easy to identify like depression, lack of concentration, sweaty and shaky. They have some memories that trigger a reaction of fear and insecurity. The victims end up being in a state that they lose control of themselves. The effects that arise from this condition is that they can harm themselves and those close to them, they become detached from the social setup and this may lead to them getting involved in drugs and alcohol to cope with it.

It is treatable and this is through psychotherapy, which involves the victims, process and integrates so that they can in the end work as other memories work as opposed to working on its own. Therapy entails handling and comforting the victim to restore the feeling of safety. They victims here are allowed to tell their story and are able to understand themselves and their environment in a setting of light and hence restore relationships. This process is with the help of professionals like counselors and psychiatrists. Similarly, the treatment can take a spiritual turn where pastors and priests help the trauma victims to cope with their conditions. Spiritual and professional are vital as they help restore the person in a state of peace and tranquility. Overall, trauma victims need a lot of love, care, and consideration for them to get back to their initial state. They need to go through exercises, relaxation and go about their normal activities with the help of friends and family. Their future is hence brighter and goes back to normal with the society playing a role.


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"Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents" StudyScroll, Jan 19, 2016.

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StudyScroll. (2016). Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

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