Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Children: A Review of the Past 10 Years

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1997 Nov;36(11):1503-11. doi: 10.1016/S0890-8567(09)66558-8.


Objective: To review current knowledge about the clinical presentation, assessment, and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children.

Method: The literature on PTSD in children is examined.

Results: Over the past 10 years, PTSD has been described in children exposed to a variety of traumatic experiences. Little is known about the epidemiology of the disorder in children. Partial symptomatology and comorbidity are common. A variety of factors influence response to trauma and affect recovery. They include characteristics of the stressor and exposure to it; individual factors such as gender, age and developmental level, and psychiatric history; family characteristics; and cultural factors. Since the condition is likely to occur after disaster situations, much of the literature describes the child's response to disaster and interventions tend to include efforts within schools and/or communities. A number of clinical approaches have been used to treat the condition.

Conclusions: While assessment has been studied extensively, the longitudinal course of PTSD and treatment effectiveness have not been. Biological correlates of the condition also warrant greater attention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Family Characteristics
  • Family Therapy
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / therapy
  • Violence