PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychological medical condition. PTSD occurs after a traumatizing and emotionally turbulent experience. During these situations, fear and anxiety is common. However, PTSD manifests when emotions such as fear and anxiety fail to dissipate after the traumatic experience is over. Dog attack PTSD is most common in children, but may also occur in adults.

Symptoms of Dog Attack PTSD

Symptoms of dog attack PTSD typically become evident within the first few months after a dog attack. Symptoms may last for months or years if left undiagnosed or untreated. Children and adults with dog attack PTSD tend to become excessively anxious and fearful while in the presence of any dog. In severe cases, this fear may lead to complete avoidance of interaction with dogs.

Children or adults with dog attack PTSD may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Excessive anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Decreased school or work performance
  • Social and emotional withdrawal
  • Reduced creativity
  • Altered appetite
  • Pronounced startle responses
  • Physical complaints
  • Behavioral issues

PTSD in Children

Children may be more susceptible to dog attack PTSD. Treatment for children’s PTSD is important, as it may have a negative effect on the child’s academic, emotional, and social growth. In severe cases, an irrational fear of dogs and other animals may be carried for a lifetime.

PTSD and Child Development

Studies show that PTSD at a young age may cause neurological damage. A study at Stanford University revealed that children with PTSD tended to have an abnormal hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region of the brain associated with memory. As a result, children with PTSD performed more poorly on memory tests than children without PTSD. Additionally, brain scans revealed that children with PTSD generally had less electrical activity in the hippocampus.

Preventing Dog Attack PTSD

Mental health specialists assert that the best time to deal with PTSD is immediately after a dog attack, even before PTSD symptoms arise. This can be accomplished through therapy. Dog attack victims should be encouraged to talk about and deal with negative emotions from the attack. By managing stress early, it may prevent the type of emotional buildup that causes long-term anxiety and repression.

PTSD Education

During the treatment phase, parents of young dog attack victims typically build relationships with care providers and give high regard to their medical advice. This provides an ideal opportunity for physicians to introduce the psychological aspects of a dog attack. Information such as pamphlets should be given to families to provide mental health resources and encourage the family’s discussion of the incident.

 

 

Sources:

Dalgleish, Tim. “Cognitive Approaches to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: The Evolution of Multirepresentational Theorizing.” Psychological Bulletin 130.2 (2004): 228-260. PsycARTICLES. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

London, Robert T. “Strategies for treating PTSD.” Clinical Psychiatry News Dec. 2004: 20. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

“Memory and learning deficits in children with PTSD.” The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter Apr. 2007: 3. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

“Posttraumatic stress disorder after dog bites in children.” Child Health Alert Mar. 2004: 1. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.