AT LEAST 60,000 teenagers in the UK have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a landmark study.
In the first research of its kind, experts calculated one in 13 under-18s has been hit by the crippling condition.
Getty – Contributor One in 13 teenagers suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, experts have warned
But experts warn too many are “falling through the gaps” – with two in three failing to get any NHS help.
Symptoms of the anxiety disorder include nightmares, guilt, sleep problems and difficulty concentrating.
Half of these youngsters went on to self harm, while a fifth have attempted suicide.
Wake- up call
Medics said the findings should serve as a “wake-up call”.
Experts from Kings College London found a third of teens had experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime – often involving death, injury or sex attacks.
As a result, these kids were twice as likely to struggle with mental health issues.
The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at more than 2,000 children born between 1994 and 1995.
In total, 7.8 per cent experienced PTSD before the age of 18.
Young PTSD patients are ‘falling through the gaps’
Professor Andrea Danese from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at KCL, said: “This is the first study of its kind in the UK. Childhood trauma is a public health concern yet trauma-related disorders often go unnoticed.
“Young people with PTSD are falling through the gaps in care and there is a pressing need for better access to mental health services.
“The good news is we have effective treatments. The bad news is only a small proportion of young people with PTSD are getting the right help.”
Many of those with PTSD also had other mental health problems, with more than half suffering depression.
Lead researcher Dr Stephanie Lewis said: “Providing effective treatments early on could prevent mental health problems continuing into adulthood.”
Dr Tim Dalgleish, from the University of Cambridge, said the results of the “landmark study” were “sobering”.
THE PTSD SIGNS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN YOUR CHILDSYMPTOMS of PTSD can happen straight after a traumatic incident, but they’re often spotted up to six months later.
The main signs are:
flashbacks or nightmares about what happened
avoidance and numbing – trying to keep busy and avoiding thinking about it
being tense and on guard all the time, in case it happens again
Your child might also experience:
anger or irritability
problems sleeping or eating
problems with booze and drugs
difficulty remembering the traumatic event
If you’re worried, speak to your GP.
Visit Young Minds for more info.
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He said: “Of particular concern is the relatively small proportion of affected youth who go on to access formal support or mental health services.”
Emma Thomas, CEO of YoungMinds, said: “It’s shocking and upsetting that so many young people have experienced trauma, and PTSD as a result.
“Research tells us that children who go through traumatic experiences, such as bereavement, abuse or neglect, are more likely to develop mental health problems and become suicidal.”