PTSD common in children with cancer

Researchers working at both the University of Zurich and the University Children’s Hospital Zurich have reported findings that children and toddlers diagnosed with cancer, subsequently, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was reported that a diagnosis of PTSD is as a result of the stress and emotional impact of cancer and its traumatic treatment procedures.

The researchers interviewed 48 mothers of children and toddlers who had been diagnosed with cancer. In addition, the children were observed to establish if they were suffering from symptoms of the anxiety disorder including hypervigilance, stress, social anxiety and flashbacks.

The report which was published in the journal Psycho-Oncology concluded over 18 percent of the children met the criteria for preschool PTSD. Children who were over the age of 18 months at their diagnosis were significantly more likely to develop symptoms of PTSD than younger children. Additionally, children whose mothers were significantly stressed and also had symptoms of PTSD were at a higher risk of also being diagnosed with the disorder.

The researchers also reported that there was a delay between the end of treatment and the development of PTSD symptoms in some of the children.
The research is particularly important as it highlights a specific group who are at risk of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This means that early intervention and prevention methods could be put into place to help prevent and the disorder from causing too much disruption to the individual’s lives.

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