What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, often occurs when children survive an event that causes the child physical harm, or when children witness an event that causes serious injury or death to another. Events that can cause PTSD in children include physical or sexual abuse, violent crimes, car accidents, fires, school shootings, floods, or animal attacks.

Not all children who experience traumatic events will suffer from PTSD. Up to 43 percent of children will undergo at least one trauma before the age of 18. Three to 15 percent of girls and one to six percent of boys who undergo a trauma will develop PTSD. However, the rates of PTSD depend on the type of trauma. Nearly 55 percent of children attacked by dogs develop PTSD.

Signs and symptoms of PTSD after an Illinois dog bite

We’ve all seen movies in which the veteran relives his wartime experience over and over, focusing only on the trauma and closing out friends and family. Children who are attacked by dogs have their own set of PTSD symptoms.

Symptoms of PTSD in school-age children (ages 5-12)

  • Sleep problems.
  • Changes in behavior.
  • Problems in school.
  • Problems with friends.
  • Flashbacks and recurring memories are less likely than for adults.
  • The child may remember the events of the dog attack in the wrong order.
  • The child may believe that he should have known the dog attack was going to happen. The child may feel that he needs to constantly watch for these signs in order to prevent future dog bites.
  • The child may show signs of PTSD while playing, including role-playing the dog attack.

Symptoms of PTSD in school-age teens (ages 12-18)

Teens may show the same PTSD symptoms as adults, including:

  • Flashbacks to the dog attack
  • Sleeping disturbances
  • Nightmares
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability or anger
  • A fear of leaving the home
  • Avoidance of favorite activities
  • Heightened sense of alertness
  • Difficulty focusing at school

However, teens are more likely than adults to react impulsively or aggressively. Teens with PTSD may have an increased risk of suicide.

Treatment of PTSD after an Illinois Dog Bite Attack

In some cases, PTSD symptoms go away without treatment, but most children will need psychological treatment to help them deal with the emotional aftermath of the dog bite. Treatment for PTSD in children may include: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), play therapy, and traditional counseling.

Your first step is to discuss your child’s symptoms with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will make a referral for treatment.

If a dog in Illinois bit your child, you and your family deserve accountability. Let our Rockford dog bite attorneys hold the dog owner responsible with an Illinois dog bite injury attorney. We will seek compensation for all your child’s injuries, both physical and emotional. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your Illinois dog bite injury case, contact the Rockford dog bite lawyers at Hupy and Abraham at 800-390-6350.