Nov 1, 2012

My child may have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Category: Children
Posted By: Wendy

Question: My 9 year old brother has just witnessed his friend being run over by a car and die on spot.  He has been crying and has been doing things that he usually refuses to do like small chores, reading etc.   I think he is feeling guilty because he keeps saying I just turned away for a minute!  I'm really scared that this will scar him for life and wanted to know what we should do next. Thank you



Answer:  Hi Wendy, I’m really sorry that your brother witnessed such a tragic accident, how awful for everyone involved.  It sounds to me like your brother is experiencing some degree of Post Traumatic Stress, which isn’t at all surprising as he did experience a considerable trauma.  It is very common in such instances to blames oneself and wish desperately that you had done some minor thing differently so that the event didn’t come about, even when there is absolutely no blame involved.

I think it is unlikely that it will scar him for life.  If a traumatic event happens to someone whose life is otherwise stable and supported then they will usually recover without too much trouble.  If you think that this isn’t going to be the case then it might be helpful for your parents to seek some help from a therapist for him.  Again as long as the rest of his life is stable and supported then it is likely that this would just be a short-term piece of work to help him understand the nature of what happened and his own feelings and reactions to it.

Longer term difficulties are only likely if there have been other traumas or difficulties or if there are other anxieties or underlying difficulties.  It would certainly be helpful for your brother to know that he can speak to you and/or your parents about what happened and for you all to let him know that whatever he feels is perfectly normal and understandable and he will feel better in time.

I hope this helps and I wish you and your family all the best in recovering from this,


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