Medications for Childhood PTSD: It’s All Off-Label

Medications for Childhood PTSD: It’s All Off-Label

In 2011, we wrote a review of medications for PTSD in children and found, unfortunately, that data to inform true evidence-based practice was scant. There are still no psychotropic medications that have been proven effective in randomized controlled trials for children with PTSD and there are no FDA approved medications for this population.

Medications for PTSD

First line treatment of PTSD should always consist of psychotherapy but medications are often used in the hopes of further improving symptoms.

Psychotherapy for Pediatric PTSD

In the US, 60% of children report exposure to violence, abuse or other trauma in the past year. Traumatized children like Karina can present to treatment with a range of symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, disruptive behaviors, mood dysregulation, and developmental regression.

Research Update

The Power of a Child’s Subjective Response to Trauma

By now most of us know how PTSD looks in DSM-5. Among a number of changes is the removal of criterion A2, which required a response to an event to include “intense fear, helplessness, or horror.” Criterion A1—exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence—was slightly edited, but remains a diagnostic requirement for the disorder.

Does Guanfacine Work for Pediatric PTSD?

Treatment options for pediatric PTSD and trauma symptoms are limited, and the symptoms are clearly detrimental to youths’ functioning, particularly in the presence of comorbid disorders. 

Expert QA

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

TF-CBT has strong evidence of improving a wide variety of problems, including PTSD, depression, anxiety and fear, behavior
problems, and trauma-related shame, as well as improving parental functioning.