Study: Dangerous neighborhoods cause PTSD in children - WNEM TV 5

Study: Dangerous neighborhoods cause PTSD in children

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A new study says a child's hometown could do damage to their mental health.

Researchers learned living in a violent area could lead to post traumatic stress disorders in children.

"I know that we see a lot of it here at our agency," said Sara Demijohn, clinical social worker at Child and Family Services.

She said she works with several children in Mid-Michigan who experience PTSD.  

"From being around violence, being victims of violence and from being around neighborhoods where there is a lot of crime and violence. Anything that poses a threat to a person can cause PTSD," Demijohn said.

She said a distinguishing sign of the disorder is continuing flashbacks of the violent experience.

"One of the hallmark symptoms is intrusive images and reoccurring nightmares of the traumatic event or experience," Demijohn said.

Experts said kids can develop PTSD at almost any age. At Child and Family Services therapists said they've treated children with the disorder as young as 3 years old. 

"I've seen from ages 3 all the way up to adults," Demijohn said.

Clinicians like Demijohn help patients overcome symptoms of PTSD with therapy.

She said if your child has the symptoms and they do not go away on their own, it might be time to consult a professional.

"Be mindful of when you see changes in the behavior, changes in their mood and changes in their sleep and just be aware of what PTSD is," Demijohn said.

The Center for Disease Control said nearly half of those with PTSD recover within three months, without treatment.  

If symptoms interfere with everyday life, talk with a health care provider.

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