Answers lacking on treating traumatised children

Traumatised children

Studying which treatments are most effective is difficult because so many things affect how a child or teen will fare emotionally after a traumatic event, said Dr. Denise Dowd, an emergency physician and research director at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, who wrote a Pediatrics editorial.

One of the most important factors is how the child's parents handle the aftermath, Dowd said.

"If the parent is freaking out" and has difficulty controlling emotions, kids will have a tougher time dealing with trauma. Traumatized kids need to feel like they're in a safe and stable environment, and if their parents have trouble coping, "it's going to be very difficult for the kid," Dowd said.

The researchers analyzed 25 studies of treatments that included anti-anxiety and depression drugs, school-based counseling, and various types of psychotherapy. The strongest evidence favored school-based treatments involving cognitive behavior therapy, which helps patients find ways to cope with disturbing thoughts and emotions, sometimes including talking repeatedly about their trauma.

This treatment worked better than nothing, but more research is needed in comparing it with alternatives, the report states.

"We really don't have a gold standard treatment right now," said William Copeland, a psychologist and researcher at Duke University Medical Center. who was not involved in the report. A lot of doctors and therapists may be ``patching together a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and that might not add up to the most effective treatment for any given child,'' he said

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