PTSD & wartime children

It’s not only soldiers who suffer from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which used to be called “battle fatigue,” but anyone who has ever experienced first-hand the terrors of warfare or tragedies of horrific proportion is just as susceptible. In her journal, about halfway down the page, Jo Wilding speaks of the children of Iraq and the psychological damage done to them by this war. Juvenile PSTD is considered to be of such magnitude in the health and well-being of American children that school counselors and psychologists rush into the classrooms when a classmate tragically dies, even as a result of an automobile accident. And yet, in Iraq, the children of war are almost forgotten victims.

    The doctors believe there is not a single child in Iraq who isn’t suffering some degree of post traumatic stress, with a wide variety of symptoms. There is virtually no awareness about the disorder and its symptoms, so bed wetting, for example, is a source of shame rather than a warning signal that the child needs help. Parents are in denial, Dr Yousef says, because of the stigma attached to any kind of mental illness. “Parents think that people will think there’s something wrong with the child’s mind and say maybe he inherited it from me.”

    The doctors believe that play therapy is the best, perhaps the only, way of diagnosing and rehabilitating kids with PTSD but there are no trainers in Iraq. “There are less than a hundred psychiatrists in Iraq, but more than three hundred Iraqi psychiatrists in the UK.”… read more

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