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Teen ER Visits For Violence, Cyber Bullying Marked By PTSD

Update Date: Feb 19, 2016 12:07 PM EST

Making a strong pitch for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) screening, a new study points out that nearly half of teen visits to ER pertain to violence and bullying.

For the study, researchers at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Rhode Island surveyed 353 adolescents aged 13 through 17 between 2013 and 2014 who visited ER. According to UPI, they found nearly half of the teens reported experiencing peer or community violence and cyber-bullying. PTSD symptoms were noted in nearly a quarter of them.

"Among adolescents presenting to the ED for any reason, symptoms consistent with PTSD, depressive symptoms, physical peer violence, cyberbullying and community violence exposure are common and interrelated," researchers wrote in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry. "Greater attention to PTSD, both disorder and symptom levels and its co-occurring risk factors is needed."

Besides showing that PTSD can set in adolescents from everyday experiences, the study along with others argues for screening in ERs. Sans screening, teenagers suffering from PTSD may go beyond help resulting in unfavorable outcomes like suicides.

"PTSD in adolescents has been associated with long-term functional impairment, including poor physical health, academic failure and increased need for medical services," said study lead Megan Ranney.

Among the study's participants, 11.3 percent reported moderate or severe depression with suicidal thoughts.

"This study highlights the need for improved efforts at more standardized mental health evaluation, possibly even screening for PTSD regardless of the reason for a teen's visit to the emergency department."

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