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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Many children and adolescents who experience potentially traumatic events, such as natural disasters, acts of violence, physical injuries, child abuse, and life-threatening medical illnesses, display significant stress symptoms. In fact, these potentially traumatic events can lead to the development of acute stress disorder (ASD) and/or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cause significant psychological impairment. In this chapter, we discuss the types of potentially traumatic events that lead to ASD or PTSD in youth, as well as various aspects of trauma exposure. We next review available evidence on the definition, prevalence, and course of ASD and PTSD in youth, and the risk factors associated with their development. To date, relatively few studies have examined ASD and existing evidence calls into question the validity of dissociative symptoms as part of the existing ASD diagnostic criteria for youth. In contrast, many studies have evaluated PTSD and its symptoms in youth exposed to trauma, although PTSD prevalence rates vary substantially depending on a host of factors, including the type of traumatic event experienced, the degree of exposure to the event, and the informant for PTSD symptoms, among other factors. We also discuss developmental considerations for the ASD and PTSD diagnoses and directions for future research. The chapter closes with a brief summary of proposed changes to the diagnostic criteria for ASD and PTSD in youth that are being considered for the DSM-5.

Keywords: acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, children, adolescents, youth, exposure

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