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Post-Traumatic Stress in Children
Behavioral disorders that usually result from individual experience and exposure to the causative events lead to trauma. However, in many cases, professional help and confrontation of feelings is the only way for effective post-traumatic stress treatment. According to Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, and Marmar (2015), people experience some traumatic events throughout their lives. Also, the frequency of these events may be different and depend on the characteristics of the group studied; for instance, the adverse impacts that would take effect on them. The studies indicate that it is possible to prevent many disabilities and complications related to post-traumatic stress. It can be done through quick assessment and treatment after the traumatic event (Blessing et al., 2015). This paper intends to detail the primary issues related to post-traumatic stress in children to outline different perspectives in the form of common causes, effects, symptoms, appropriate treatment strategies, and to propose the aspects of research that would underscore existing literature.
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It is evident that stress is an everyday life feeling (Difede, Olden, & Cukor 2014). The definition of stress varies due to different factors including the environment, mental and physical exhaustion, etc. Stress is often understood as a mismatch between personal ability to cope with this feeling and external demands (Baldwin et al., 2014). Many people attribute their physical illness (e.g. a headache) to stress. Scientists find that people vary in their resistance to stress. Some individuals seek stressful situations and are engaged in extreme sports that demand career, and stressful hobbies (Difede et al., 2014). Simultaneously, many people are not able to cope with stress which makes them unhappy and even ill. Harsh life events, for instance, bereavement, divorce, and unemployment, are serious stressors that lead to mental health problems (Baldwin et al., 2014). It is essential to prevent people from experiencing post-traumatic stress as it negatively influences their lives, health, and the whole society. Therefore, this research will develop a framework that enables to manage post-traumatic stress and prevent it in case of traumatic events.
The ultimate effect of traumatic events is trauma (Baldwin et al., 2014). Therefore, it is essential to develop a research proposal on practical and theoretical frameworks to be used in managing some conditions that could be applied in mitigating the adverse effects. The study will answer the following questions:
i. What can lead to the elimination of post-traumatic stress?
ii. What measures should be taken to minimize the adverse effects of post-traumatic stress?
iii. What solutions can help to manage post-traumatic stress?
The research questions will contribute to getting extended information about the events that can cause post-traumatic stress. It will identify and perhaps prevent and avoid stressful situations that may lead to the disorder. Also, the study will deepen the knowledge about the effective measures that can eliminate the adverse effects of the investigated stress. Finally, the research will enable to get information about possible solutions that will help to manage post-traumatic stress among children.
The practical framework will assist both patients and clinicians in making proper decisions concerning treatment options and the possibility of elimination of post-traumatic stress. The research will use the available research evidence and different methods to evaluate the conditions and symptoms related to the investigated condition. It will aim at improving the healthcare process and outcomes in various ways. Namely, the framework will provide up-to-date recommendations in order to manage post-traumatic stress, enhance communication between patients, health professionals, and caregiver, help patients in making proper decisions about possible treatment and management options for their conditions, and assist in providing an essential awareness of the situation.
For the people who have experienced a traumatic event, single-session interventions focused on the traumatic incident should not be the routine practice (Baldwin et al., 2014). Therefore, they require a long way of managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment and management of people with PTSD rely on a multidimensional approach. It is essential to choose the most suitable treatment options including social support, patient education, management of feelings, and others. Social support and patient education for creating awareness are considered to be necessary initial interventions that can effectively mitigate the influence of the traumatic events. The post-traumatic stress management presupposes the engagement of both national and local support groups, support from friends and family, and psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic interventions.
Different psychotherapy forms are considered to be adequate for dealing with the trauma-related problems including post-traumatic stress. The most common practices of the condition treatment include education about the stress and support and safety environment creation. The widely used programs of psychotherapy include exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral programs (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, & Marmar, 2015). The latter would be ideal in the observation of the behavior trends of the children in quest of comprehending their thinking processes. Exposure therapy involves the interaction of the affected children with programs that can aid their recovery. Finally, play therapy, sport and physical activity are also valid for children (Griffin, Charron, & Al-Daccak, 2014).
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Thus, traumatic events are almost always stressful. The stress that is caused by the traumatic events initiates some physiopathological and psycho-emotional outcomes. However, this response is diagnosed as a disorder. The research highlights that children are less likely to develop post-traumatic stress than adults. However, the diagnosis in this case is usually based on the particular symptom presence after a traumatic event.
Trauma tends to have adverse effects on the development of children. The conventional thought process of the child is affected; the natural feelings are marred by fear and a sense of insecurity that eventually lead to behavioral problems (Breslau et al., 2014). Most of the events that translate to stress among young individuals are likely to be a part of them for protracted time frames. The result would be stunted development, an implication that the development state would be delayed. The growth of children follows a sequence based on the experiences they encounter in their day-to-day environment (Alisic et al., 2014). When most of the events have negative implication, the inevitable result is the emergence of behavioral disorders owing to the limited interactions with peers (Trickey, Siddaway, Meiser-Stedman, Serpell, & Field, 2012). The negativity associated occurrences limit the ability of the children to express themselves, hence derailment of the crucial stages of development (Admon, Milad, & Hendler, 2013).
Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress in Children
The primary cause of trauma in children is the death of a loved person. Children often form attachments with the people closest to them (Bohus et al., 2013). The bond shared is strong and has a crucial role to play in their development. The demise of such people would take a toll on the childrens psychological wellbeing (Breslau et al., 2014). Coupled with a slow healing process that entails acceptance of the state, post-traumatic stress sets in (Admon et al., 2013).
Witnessing horrifying occurrences during war, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters are critical as an influence on the manifestation of post-traumatic stress (Biederman et al., 2013). The environment in which kids are raised up ought to be friendly in order to include events that foster development and day-to-day activities relevant for the development while promoting their progression through the phases of growth (Trickey et al., 2012). The elements of violence occasioned by war are likely to be engraved in the minds of children and bear negative implications in the long term (Franck et al., 2015).
Physical assault, kidnapping, rape, and sexual abuse are the other significant causes of post-traumatic stress among children (Admon et al., 2013). These incidents feature in the form of a sudden shock to them, and the pain associated with them may leave a lasting mark in the mindset of children (Bohus et al., 2013). A repeat of similar occurrences would cause further damages that are harder to resolve (Breslau et al., 2014). The conditioned reflex action of the learning process has the implication that the prolonged exposure of the children to causal factors would be an equivalent to the permanence of adverse effects (Franck et al., 2015). For example, the prolonged exposure of children to violence would result in the development of anxiety.
The severity of symptoms exhibited in children depends on the support that they get as a result of the traumatic events experienced. The first three months of exposure to the traumatic events would be sufficient to yield symptoms. At the forefront of the symptoms, some issues are manifested as changes in the common behavioral trends (Alisic et al., 2014). The children lose interest in most of the activities that they enjoyed previously. There is a general outburst of anger, and they become irritable very easily. Any slight problem they encounter is often blown out of proportion (Breslau et al., 2014). There is also a regression of behavior, and indiscipline would ensue afterwards (Admon et al., 2013).
Physical symptoms may also emerge and take center stage as sleep disturbances. The children find it difficult to fall asleep as a result of the uncertainty of what might happen in their sleep (Bohus et al., 2013). There is a limited physical contact so much so that the children previously engaged with peers in the normal play sessions start keeping to themselves and avoiding people. There is also the alteration of the metabolisms in brain (Bohus et al., 2013).
The core cognitive symptoms entail the alteration of the standard cognitive functioning that includes troubles while concentrating at school (Parsons & Ressler, 2013). Children that were initially excellent performers may start experiencing regression with most of the aspects of educational achievement dwindling. There are particular challenges in the ability of children to recollect events. These are troubled kids that can barely remember anything substantial (Trickey et al., 2012).
Psychosocial symptoms include general numbing of emotions and series of flashbacks of the events. Such children tend to have nightmares that come as a replication of the events that perpetually lead to trauma (Franck et al., 2015). There is fear, guilt, sadness, and worry among children. They find it difficult to trust people, and their self-esteem is unusually low (Alisic et al., 2014).
Protracted incidences of post-traumatic stress in children could have adverse effects when the symptoms are not identified at the early stages of manifestation and treated. Anxiety and depression are the most common effects, especially when there is no confidant (Biederman et al., 2013). Better identification of the symptoms and future intervention is feasible in the event of the close relationship established with the affected children. An example here would be the determinant of the ability to identify when the behavior norms begin to take a dive for the worse (Franck et al., 2015).
The other effect would be sexual behaviors that are out of place. The children discover sex and may start behaving in ways out of the normal (Alisic et al., 2014). The pressure that is occasioned by the incidences of post-traumatic stress is likely to be a contributing factor to the onset of drug abuse among the children (Trickey et al., 2012). The influence they get from peers coupled with the personal challenges would be excessive external forces with the result of engaging in group mentality.
There could also be long-lasting effects like self-harm, cardiovascular disease, and pain disorders. The sensory nerves may be damaged so that the children are unable to feel pain. There are also general conduct disorder and the emergence of suicidal thoughts present (Biederman et al., 2013). These are detrimental effects to the health of the children. Close monitoring should be applied in a bid to identify any possible early symptoms. Interventions in the conditions that may ensue are easier at the initial stages (Parsons & Ressler, 2013).
The initial stage of treatment of the disease entails the due assessment of the children in order to diagnose the condition suffered. It may be an essential step to ascertain that the method of therapy chosen is in accord with the individual needs (Parsons & Ressler, 2013). In the cases where the symptoms are not well-developed to make the correct diagnosis, watchful waiting is required for close monitoring so that the final decision made is right.
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For persistent cases of post-traumatic stress, medication and psychotherapy would be the ideal approach to be used. However, for mild cases, the latter would be sufficient as a preliminary step as observations continue. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) would be used to help children make a change in their thinking process that is under the influence of trauma (Biederman et al., 2013). The modes of actions may also be assisted to get the best out of the observed trends. The CBT used is designed to have 8-12 sessions (Parsons & Ressler, 2013).
Relevance of Proposed Research
The proposed research examines the potent causes, effects, symptoms, and the treatment options for post-traumatic stress among children. This can add to existing literature in the perspective of the approaches used to get through to the children. It is vital that close relationships are established with the children so that early intervention is sought when their behavior starts to suggest post-traumatic stress. The effects of PTSD are adverse and may cause permanent damage for children. They need to be shielded from the causative events. Close monitoring is imperative in the identification of the symptoms before a treatment plan is implemented.
The primary research hypothesis is the assumption that the effects of post-traumatic stress in children do not result in permanent effects. According to Breslau et al. (2014), the rejection of the hypothesis would be based on the scenario that follows the identification of the adverse effects of PTSD. The data would be an indication that the results are not advanced at the early stages when the symptoms start to develop (Alisic et al., 2014). The extent of the effects would be based on the observed incidences after an extended period.
The independent variables in the research are pain disorders, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and depression. The study by Parsons and Ressler (2013) operationalizes the variables using the extent to which various disorders take effect. The level of the observed incidences of post-traumatic stress in children determines the capacity of the effects felt (Bohus et al., 2013). The dependent variables in the research are behavioral trends and sleep disturbances and are operationalized by reviewing the permanent effects of PTSD. These effects alter normal state of the children.
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Bohus et al. (2013) have aided the development of the hypothesis in light of all key results giving an account of the adverse effects of post-traumatic stress in children. The studies by Alisic et al. (2014) and Trickey et al. (2012) reached the conclusion that the observed incidences of post-traumatic stress, especially those in children, tend to have permanent effects. The implication is that any future research would quickly set out with the formed expectations that the required outcome should allude to the conclusion made, namely that PTSD effects are permanent if occurred to children (Admon, Milad, & Hendler, 2013). As such, the key deductions of the existing studies were critical in influencing the designing of the hypothesis.
In the event of a confirmation of the hypothesis, the implication would be that the overall conclusions made about post-traumatic stress are incorrect. It is only the rejection of the hypothesis that would be ideal for validating the results. Theoretical knowledge may be the point, but the hypothesis must be in tandem with the results; otherwise the collected data would be unreliable. The viability of the results of the other researchers would also be in question.
Methodology and Research Design
The methodological approach to be used is quantitative research. It comes with the positivist paradigm. It is overseen through the collection of data before converting them to numerical forms in order to allow statistical computation. It is used where there is an intent to determine the number of people that think in a given perspective and depend on statistical analysis for factual findings (Mertens, 2014).
The methodology is selected due to the desire to obtain data that show the extent to which the effects of post-traumatic stress manifest in children. The methodology would be essential in getting accurate data relating to the same so that similar statistical analyses yield the applicable deductions (Mertens, 2014). The theory of the method is the empiricist paradigm, an implication that the primary concern is the cause and effects of post-traumatic in the identified population of children.
The primary method of data collection for the sample of children in regions where the events leading to post-traumatic stress are rife will be questionnaires. This type will be designed for incorporating self-administered scripts and those that necessitate interviews. All the questions about the incidences of post-traumatic stress and the corresponding effects in children will be included (Matthews & Ross, 2014). In the research intending to establish the effects of PTSD in children, it is vital that the subjects chosen to participate in the study are picked randomly. There may be an assumption that the effects of PTSD tend to be adverse. A proof of the same would be feasible for attaining in the event of an unbiased method of experimental inclusion in administering the questionnaires. The study subjects will be located by chance.
In the violence-prone area, the effects of the causative agents of trauma in the form of the war, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, physical assault, kidnapping, rape, and sexual abuse were examined.
The proposed model is the prospective observational study (cohort study). The primary objective is to establish the effects of post-traumatic stress disorders in children. Choosing the cohort study approach would be an equivalent to putting a focus on the children affected by the condition only before drawing a direct comparison with other unaffected children (Creswell, 2013). Such a comparison would be at the forefront of the gravity establishment of adverse implications for the children. It is feasible to point out the initial mental stages of the children before the traumatic events set in, and the final condition after a protracted exposure to the most notable occurrences that yield trauma. The children in the regions where certain traumatic events are popular would be compared vis-a-vis with those of the same age bounds but in the areas where the same traumatic events are non-existent. The setup would be crucial in eliciting the anticipated results.
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The experimental design to be used lies between subjects. The objective of the research is to evaluate the effects of post-traumatic stress in children in regions where the causative events of the same are commonplace. Setting up the between subjects design would be an equivalent to identifying the groups of children in the areas where the events leading to trauma are rife and then picking safer regions with little or no events. Such method would allow for the evaluations to be conducted simultaneously so that the effects of the trauma in the children may be practical to evaluate.
The consideration of regions as violent-prone will depend on geography to match the areas selected. Most of the areas where there are frequent cases of petty crimes feature multiple incidents of violence. Break-ins and burglary occur often; there are the cases when violence is used in carrying out criminal activities, and the children witness them. These are the areas that are to be considered. Two counties targeted for sourcing the subjects for the study often exhibit heightened incidents of violence. There are also cases of unemployment among the youth that result in idleness. These are some more factors that are equivalent to violence and crime; events that would cause post-traumatic stress when experienced by children.
The questionnaires filled and the interviews conducted led to the deduction that the children that have been subjected to acts of violence, especially physical assault, rape, and sexual abuse were the most affected in regard to post-traumatic stress that they were dealing with. The observation of children at an age that was free of violence hinted normal developmental process. There were also children that had not experienced severe cases of violence. As such, the inference made from the same was the development of only mild cases of PTSD (Moffitt, 2013). The children in the regions where terrorist attacks are commonplace exhibited heightened cases of anxiety and restlessness. Moreover, the children from areas where natural disasters are frequent show emotional disturbance as well. The death of a loved person appeared to be the cause of permanent incidences of PTSD given the replication of the initially shared relationship being nearly impossible (Boelen & Spuij, 2013).
From the observation, it is apparent that the effects of trauma in children would last as long as there are no measures rolled out to be used in the capacity of a remedy. The relationship of the observation in relation to the research hypothesis implies that the incidences of traumatic events cause permanent effects for children (Moffitt, 2013). They often result in psychological unrest among the children. The continued exposure to the events within the environments of origin would be tantamount to the permanence of the adverse implications. The effects on the children only deteriorate in light of the prolonged exposure.
The final answer holds that the traumatic events in children amount to the heightened cases of PTSD. The longer the duration of exposure to the events lasts, the higher the chance is that PTSD would be fully developed in the affected children. Recurrent cases of physical assault have been shown to bear the biggest impact on the children. Attack, especially from family members and parents, appears to have adverse effects on the development of children owing to the feeling elicited that there is no love in the household. The self-esteem of the victims is at a low ebb. Natural disasters have not much effect compared to other causative agents. The rationale behind this lies in the effects that it has on everyone. Their occurrences are also never common to leave a lasting mark on children.
In light of the observed results, it suffices to draw the conclusion that post-traumatic stress disorders among children are down to the exposure to causative agents. The memory of the children is usually negatively impacted, especially when the cases of violence blight the majority of the events that they can recollect. According to the research conducted by Parsons and Ressler (2013), the children who have PTSD tend to fall back on their educational achievement due to the difficulty they have in concentrating. Several memory-related challenges emerge to derail the learning process at school. The study conducted by Breslau et al. (2014) is also in awe of the research question due to the assertion made that the incidences of childhood maltreatment are at the forefront of the considerations that commonly lead to the confinement of children in the juvenile system.
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