n CME : Your SA Journal of CPD - Caring for adolescents who have been exposed to trauma : main article

Volume 25, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 0256-2170



Children and adolescents are more vulnerable to the effects of traumatic experiences than adults and are thus at an increased risk of developing adverse psychological reactions to such events.

Adolescents experience a range of traumatic situations and employ a variety of coping strategies in their attempts to manage stress.
Health care providers can play a vital role in assisting adolescents to cope with traumatic situations by assessing how adolescents deal with stressful situations and by providing them and their parents with information about coping with trauma.
Be aware that adolescents, particularly older males, have a tendency to deny general thoughts, emotions, and behaviours and tend to underreport symptoms.
An adolescent who shows signs of re-experiencing the trauma, has nightmares or flashbacks, or shows signs of anxiety or hyperarousal, should be referred to a local mental health care professional urgently.
The main features of PTSD are painful reliving of the event, avoidance, emotional numbing, and hyperarousal.
Management of adolescents with PTSD should include education about the disorder and its treatment (pharmacological and psychotherapeutic) and providing assistance with acquiring additional support from local support groups and / or social services.
Controlled treatment research with traumatised children and adolescents has lagged behind other treatment research on child psychopathology.
Ideally, all traumatised adolescents should have access to primary health care facilities where their physical and psychological needs can be addressed in the early aftermath of a traumatic experience.

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