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Developmental Trauma Disorders; Preventative Care


Mental illness rates are rising for unknown reasons. Studies show two thirds of adolescence have experienced at least one form of trauma. One thing we can do is to familiarize ourselves with developmental situations that can lead to mental illness and adversely impact achievement. We can work together to mitigate risks and identify victims.

The following include situations that can lead to trauma disorder development:

- Sexual or physical abuse.

- Neglect; Leaving children alone for too long, not providing necessities, educational neglect, denying the child positive attention, and lack of emotional support.

- Witnessing parental violence.

- Having to take on the role of an adult at an extremely young age.

- Repeated infidelity in relationships.

- Being under life threatening violence for a prolonged time period.

- Physical illness.

- Addiction.

- Bullying.

Warning signs that a child could have greater risk of mental illness development include:

- Mood swings or sudden changes in personality.

- Social avoidance.

- Sad or depressed for two weeks or longer.

- Changes in eating or sleeping.

- Self-harm, talking about self-harm or suicide.

- Not attending school or poor academic performance.

- Seems afraid, easily frightened.

- Separation anxiety.

- Post Traumatic Play; when a child repeatedly re-creates the trauma they went through as play and repeats it. This occurs in order to help them process the events and adults should not disturb this process.

- Reacting emotionally to reminders or triggers of the trauma.

By: Evan Redmond, Pharm.D.


1.Catherine Rothon, Jenny Head, Emily Klineberg, Stephen Stansfeld, Can social support protect bullied adolescents from adverse outcomes? A prospective study on the effects of bullying on the educational achievement and mental health of adolescents at secondary schools in East London, Journal of Adolescence, Volume 34, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 579-588,



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