Child posttraumatic stress disorder – Ukraine –

War does not only bring destruction and death to people.

It greatly affects the mental health of Ukrainians. And every day the number of people who will feel these effects will increase. Even those who have been able to withstand the first months of war will be mentally exhausted, because getting used to the ongoing war can also have a negative effect on mental health.

This was stated by the Ministry of Health.

Other manifestations of this effect, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, are increasingly beginning to occur among our fellow citizens, including among children. See among underage Ukrainians.

PTSD – Post-traumatic stress disorder – is a mental disorder that can develop after a traumatic event. Symptoms of the disorder do not appear immediately, but after some time – usually after three to six months.

Because of late symptoms, parents may not often associate changes in a child’s behavior with events they experienced a few months ago, but rather consider them as personality deterioration, signs of life crises, or see causes in other factors.

Instead, adults should pay attention to any uncharacteristic changes and manifestations in the behavior of the child in order to notice the problem in time and consult a specialist.

What should you pay attention to?

The manifestations of PTSD differ slightly in different age groups of children:

  • preschool children. Preschoolers who have experienced a traumatic event may have the following manifestations of PTSD: fear, including fear of loneliness and increased need for parents, sleep problems, unreasonable crying, refusal to eat, tantrums, isolation, and relapse into behavior inherent in youth. Age, a reflection of traumatic events in gaming and creativity.
  • Children of primary school age. Middle school students with insomnia are characterized by insomnia, apathy for past learning and hobbies, fear of the future, self-doubt, isolation, headaches, and memory and concentration problems.
  • Teens. PTSD in middle and high school children can be manifested by episodes of aggressiveness, rebelliousness, headaches and other pains, complete distrust, low self-esteem, insomnia, nightmares, irritability, apathy, difficulty concentrating, risky behavior, and depression.

If you see such signs, you should never:

  • ridicule or criticize the child’s reaction;
  • minimizing the feelings and experiences of the child;
  • Constantly return to traumatic events in conversations;
  • to promise what you will not be able to do or what is not up to you;
  • Ignore the child’s requests and needs.

How to help a child with PTSD

  • Moral support for adults. It is important to talk to your child, to make it clear that what happened is temporary, and that together you will be able to deal with stress and its consequences and continue to live. However, again the event is not mentioned. If the child asks himself, try to explain what happened, in simple words, with examples and measurements that are understandable for his age. Emphasize that it is not the child’s fault, but external factors that he cannot influence.
  • Calmness and emotional balance of parents. Children perfectly “read” our emotional state, so that your help will be most effective, try to stabilize yourself as emotionally as possible. At the same time, you should not deny the tension, your emotions and feelings.
  • A secure information space. Protect your child from news and media content that could be distressing. Do not watch videos with scenes of violence, military incidents, or wounded people in the presence of a child. Observe the conversations that occur when the child is around.
  • The usual situation of the day. As much as possible, go back to normal life if some difficult event changes it. Try to meet the child’s basic physical needs for sleep, food, hygiene, walking, as well as toys, hugs and communication. This is very important for the formation of a sense of stability, security and predictability of life in minors.
  • Physical activity is sufficient according to age. Think about what is available to you now, and give your child the opportunity to be physically active: walk and play outside, exercise, swim, dance, run – whatever the child likes and wants to do.
  • The right to express their feelings. Allow your child to show his or her feelings, feelings and fears. Talk to her, listen, answer questions. But respect the child’s personal boundaries.
  • useful things. Ask your child to do and take care of his age-appropriate things: water the flowers, hang the laundry after washing, take part in the cooking and buy groceries. Teens may find it interesting to participate in some social activities or volunteer projects. The main thing is that it was fun and safe.
  • If the changed behavior of the child threatens his life or health or persists for more than three months, it is necessary to seek qualified help from a psychologist or to the family doctor / pediatrician.

It should be noted that given the potential scale of the war’s impact on the mental health of Ukrainians, the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska launched a nationwide initiative to promote mental health and psychosocial support, in which the Ministry of Health will coordinate the development of mental health as a nation.

will mention, On February 24, Russia attacked UkraineAnd we inflicted a series of missile and air strikes on our cities, including Kyiv. The occupiers continue to destroy Ukrainian villages, towns and cities with cruise missiles and aerial bombs, killing civilians and causing devastating damage to infrastructure.

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