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Psychological Therapies Could Help Improve Life of Children with PTSD

Update Date: Dec 12, 2012 06:48 AM EST

Psychological therapies may be beneficial for children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that occurs as a result of traumatic events in life including child abuse, a new study suggests.

In their study, the researchers found that children and teenagers with PTSD showed improvement with up to three months of treatment. The current study paves the way for more research into the long-term benefits of the treatment.

PTSD can be caused due to an experience of traumatic life events. In children, it can lead to delayed development and behavioral problems.

PTSD is also associated with anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. However, no prescription drugs are known to make any difference in improving this condition in children.

Psychological therapies like supportive counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) challenge negative thinking, but no studies have been conducted assessing the potential benefits of these therapies.

The current review consists of an analysis of 14 studies, involving 758 children aged between three and 18 suffering from PTSD due to sexual abuse, violence, road accidents or natural disasters.

According to most of the studies, the effects of weekly therapy sessions did not last longer than a month after treatment. Those who were administered psychological therapies showed significant improvements, and anxiety, depression and PTSD symptoms were reduced, the report said.

"There is fair evidence for the effectiveness of psychological therapies, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, in treating post- traumatic stress disorder in children," said lead researcher Donna Gillies of the Western Sydney Local Health District in Westmead, Australia.

"However, more effort needs to be devoted to increasing follow-up in children so we can understand whether these therapies are making a difference in the long-term."

Overall, the study found better evidence of potential effectiveness of CBT.

"More trials comparing the various psychological therapies are required to find out whether specific psychological therapies are more effective for the treatment of PTSD in children and adolescents," added Gillies.

The review was published in The Cochrane Library.

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