How to recognize symptoms of PTSD in children affected by the storm

How to recognize symptoms of PTSD in children affected by the storm

PINE BELT (WDAM) - In the aftermath of a traumatic event, such as the tornado that ripped through the Pine Belt Jan. 21, it is important to remember how children might be dealing with their stress. Sergio Gutierrez, a clinical social worker with Pine Grove, listed some of the warning signs for post-traumatic stress in children parents should watch out for.

"Some things parents might notice, which is normal, could be increased activity, difficulty with concentration or attention, agitation, problems sleeping or appetite changes," Gutierrez said. "In adolescents, parents might notice more acting out or increased substance abuse. Some physical signs might be headaches or stomach aches. Parents might also notice children focusing a lot on the tornado, that they want to talk about it a lot. Young children might even want to play tornado games."

Gutierrez suggest it is important to keep an open dialogue with children about their feelings.

"Let children talk as much as they need to," he said. "Be open and be patient. Ask children their opinions on what they've heard other people and their friends talk about dealing with the tornado."

Gutierrez also wanted to remind parents not to forget about their own health as well.

"They need to take good care of themselves. Have good physical care and medical care if they need it," he said. "Sleep well. Eat well. Use other adults for support. Keep yourself calm because that will rub off on the children and help keep them calm."

While these symptoms are normal after any traumatic event, it is important to know when to seek professional help.

"Most symptoms should resolve themselves in six weeks, but if after that time you notice your children still having symptoms of stress, you might want to consider professional help," Gutierrez said.