• New Diagnostic Criteria for Preschoolers with PTSD

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    The American Psychiatric Association will introduce new criteria for diagnosing preschoolers younger than age six with a unique form of post traumatic stress disorder when it releases its newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in May. The DSM is the manual used by clinicians and researchers for the diagnosis and classification of mental disorders and conditions.

    Although PTSD has been diagnosed in children for many years, the criteria used have been difficult to apply. For instance, it is difficult to quantify “a feeling of detachment or estrangement from others” in an infant or a toddler. Other wording, such as “inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma” and a “sense of foreshortened future” will be eliminated.

    Wording for new criteria includes “markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities, including constriction of play.”

    Following a trauma, four criteria are assessed in pre-schoolers:
    ■ Intrusive symptoms such as nightmares, re-enacting the event in play or avoiding activities or people who remind the child of the event
    ■ Negative changes in cognitions or mood
    ■ Changes such as increased irritability, sleep disturbance or tantrums
    ■ To be considered PTSD, Preschool Subtype, the symptoms must be present for at least one month.
    If you are a parent or loved one of a preschooler or infant who has been exposed to trauma, the good news is that with early intervention, children show great resilience and heal. If you suspect a child is showing signs of PTSD, consult with a traumatologist who specializes in children, such as Intensive Trauma Therapy.
    To learn more about Preschool Subtype PTSD, click here.

     

     

     

     

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